Teaching Your Kids the Importance of Saying ‘NO’

             
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Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for students post-high school isn’t how to avoid life’s pitfalls. For many, it can be learning to say NO to too many good things!

In college, for example, there are so many new ways to spend time: Friends. Classes. Games. Parties. Clubs. Service opportunities. It all means that they have to be choosy—and realistic.  After all, too much of a good thing… is never a good thing!

As parents, we need to help our children avoid burnout and maintain balance in life. Here are five tips to promote such an attitude in your children:  

  1. Be self aware. What are the signs that you’re out of balance? Ask yourself, “Is there too much on my plate?” in terms of activities, responsibilities, and relationships?
  2. Identify your priorities. Time management, distractions, new responsibilities, variable schedules, and the like are all new facts of life post-high school. Develop a purposeful list of priorities. What’s important to you? Grades? Fitness? New friends? Clubs? Spiritual life? What matters most?
  3. Be intentional. Make a realistic evaluation of how you are allocating your time and energy, and consider the value and the time requirements of any new commitment before saying “yes.”  Skimping on exercise, sleep, and quiet time are not the way to deal with over-commitment and will only exacerbate the burnout.
  4. Learn to say “no.Although it's uncomfortable to say “no” to fun things and delightful people, each time you say “yes,” you are implying it’s a priority. Encourage your children to value the peace that comes from balance and the opportunities for spontaneity when there is margin.
  5. Avoid all-consuming work. Everyone lives between two ends of a spectrum. On one end are our relationships. On the other end are our performance arenas like school, career, and wealth building. In this competitive world, people often over-invest in the performance areas and under-invest in their relationships, with devastating consequences. Truly successful people recognize the importance of relationships and reflect this in their priorities and time management.

Maintaining balance is a hallmark of successful people. If you are a parent or educator of a high schooler, have you taught him or her the value of creating margin and spending time on what matters most?

Image Credit: Grassrootsy