Intelligent Disobedience for ChildrenA Handbook for Parents and Other Caregivers
© 2017 by Ira Chaleff, All rights reserved
Rev. March 20, 2018
Formats: Softcover, eBook (Kindle, PDF)
Overview by Christine Axsmith
Ira Chaleff, author of “Intelligent Disobedience – Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong” describes how to teach children to resist harmful instructions from adults in authority. It gives children the strategy of pausing and passing their thinking through the reasoning part of their brains before action. It is a brilliant and simple mental tool that lets children say “no” to things that make them uncomfortable.
Table of Contents
- Teaching you children with this guide
- 1: Instruction
- 2: Demostration
- 3: Rehearsals
- 4: Feedback
When you place your children in the care of other adults – day care providers, teachers, coaches, religious clerics, camp counselors – you trust they will be safe but you know you can’t be totally sure. When a supposedly trusted authority figure tells a child to do something wrong it is a confusing and potentially dangerous experience for them. You prepare your children to not get into cars with strangers or walk off with a stranger at the mall. How do you prepare them for the rare but serious situation when an authority figure tells them to do something they shouldn’t?
Many of us don’t. Let’s see how we might.
We already have a great example of how to do this from another safety activity. Most of us were taught at a very young age what to do if our clothes catch on fire:
Stop, Drop and Roll.
This simple memorable saying has saved disfigurements and even deaths.
Relatively few people have ever needed to use this. Yet they still remember it even decades later. Why?
A rhythmic rhyming phrase is memorable. When it is combined with simple practice our brains form a pattern for behavior that can activate when the right circumstances trigger it.
So let’s create a memorable saying we can teach and practice with our children about orders from authorities. The one I came up with is:
Blink, Think, Choice, Voice!
The full expression is Blink, Think, Make A Choice, Use Your Voice. What is it telling children to remember?
It is teaching them how to say “no” when saying “yes” would be harmful. This is known as Intelligent Disobedience. It is a critical skill both for safety and good citizenship. It is taught to guide dogs and service dogs. Surely we can teach it to children.
Parents who have read articles or seen the video on how to teach children the safety skills of Intelligent Disobedience may want the additional guidance this workbook offers to introduce the skills to their children.
Once the skills have been taught, It is important that all adults in the household understand what is meant by Intelligent Disobedience and why it is important for your children’s safety. Then they can recognize and support instances of intelligent disobedience when a child tries out their new skill.
Teaching Your Children with this Guide
The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.
— Denis Waitley, motivational speaker
You might be asking yourself, how do I teach my child when and how to say no when an authority figure or a peer tells them to do something that will be harmful to themselves or others?
It’s a skill that can be taught and adapted to many situations. You can teach it to your children with a basic learning process laid out in this guide.
The process includes (1) Instruction, (2) Demonstration, (3) Rehearsal, and (4) Feedback.
In the next few pages, we will take you through each part of this process. We will give you some typical situations to start with for teaching your child the Blink, Think, Choice, and Voice technique.
The goal of this training is to keep it simple and make it fun, so your child learns how to make the right choice and act on it. We have found that children as young as 4 years and as old as 11 have responded well if these steps are followed.
Helpful guide to rehearse with your child to say “no”. / As a mother of 8 and 10 years old children in London, I am more and more thinking how to teach children to say “No”.
I am doing my best to teach my children to make the right choices in life but it is very hard to confront peer pressure. I am not sure if my children will be strong enough to say “no” to watching a movie during a sleep-over that would give them nightmares, or “no” to watching a disturbing video on YouTube during a play-date, or “no” to drugs when they are older. It will be even a harder challenge to tell “no” to adults, when things do not feel right (confronting an attempt of emotional, physical or sexual abuse).
I looked through some behavioural psychology articles and books. It may sound funny, but actually rehearsing phrases of saying “no” in different situations would help your child to have the phrase and body language ready when he/she needs it. After I discuss with my children why they should not be watching disturbing videos on Youtube, I ask them what they would say if a friend wants to show them something on a screen they do not want to watch. We do role-playing.
Research shows that when we make a specific plan how to deal with the feared situation (in this case a fear of speaking out against a group of friends and being laughed at), when we are confronted with the request we are more likely to find it easier to act according to our original plan.
That is why I found Intelligent Disobedience for Children by Ira Chaleff to be a helpful guidebook how to practice saying “no” with children. I liked the techniques of “blink, think, choice and voice”. Thank you, Mr. Chaleff!
5.0 out of 5.0 stars5.0Anya Abdulakh
@amazon.com, UK – September 2018
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