Learning to say “No.”
Ep. 43 – Beatrix, Age 8: Friend cuts her hair!
Think About It Questions
- Have you ever had a situation where you went along with what a friend wanted but later regretted it? What happened? How did you handle it with your friend?
- Why do you think it’s sometimes hard to say no to a friend?
- Why do you think friends sometimes don’t listen or keep arguing after they’ve heard no?
- Have you ever felt envious of a friend–wishing you had something they do or could be more like them? What did you envy? How did it affect your friendship?
- If you were in Beatrix’s situation, would you be able to forgive a friend who cut more of your hair than you expected? Why or why not?
Hi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
I’m so happy to be here with you today, starting Year 2 of the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic podcast!
Here’s today’s question:
Hello, my name is Beatrix and this is my friendship struggle: For some time, a friend has been very fascinated with my hair. Everyone loves how curly it is. She asked me questions all the time about my hair. Then one day, after school, when the teachers were not looking, she suggested she cut just a bit of my hair. My friend even showed me that she does it to herself all the time by snipping just a small amount of hair, so I agreed because it looked so harmless. But when she did it, she snipped a huge chunk of my hair! I was so surprised! My mom noticed when I got home. My friend was upset when she learned that my mom and teachers had found out. My problem is that I don’t want to get my friend in trouble or have her feel bad, but I still don't understand why she did something so crazy and what else I could have done about it.
Hi, Beatrix. Oh, my goodness! You must have been so shocked and upset when you discovered that your friend had cut a huge chunk of your hair!
I can’t answer why your friend did that. I’m sure your hair is lovely. Your friend is clearly fascinated by it, and she’s probably envious of it, but that doesn’t give her the right to cut it.
She might have surprised herself by how much she cut, doing it impulsively, without thinking things through, but I also think your friend knew that cutting someone else’s hair isn’t right because she did it when the teachers weren’t looking, and she was upset that your mom and the teacher found out what she did.
A good rule of thumb is if you would feel guilty if other people found out what you’re doing, you probably shouldn’t do that!
Your friend made a mistake. She probably wasn’t trying to hurt you, but if she gets in trouble, that’s on her, not you.
The more important part of your question is what can you do, moving forward, to prevent this kind of thing from happening?
My guess is that you didn’t want your friend to cut your hair at all–she’s not a trained hairstylist! But somehow you gave in and said okay. Maybe you thought you had to because she’s your friend. Maybe she just kept asking and asking until she wore you down.
Sometimes it’s okay to go along with what a friend wants, but we have to be careful not to do that if we’re going to be mad at the friend afterward. Say yes with an open heart or say no.
The tricky thing about saying no is you often have to say it several times to be heard.
It might be helpful for you to role-play with a grown-up so you can practice saying no to another kid. Have your grown-up pretend to be the other kid and keep begging, “Please? Pretty please? Just this once? Only a little bit? I’ll be your best friend!” And you hold strong by continuing to say “no,” in a calm and confident tone. Here are some ways to do that:
- No, thanks.
- No, I don’t like that idea.
- No, I don’t want to do that. Let’s do this instead.
- No way! Definitely not!
- No, my mom would be so mad if I did that!
I’m sure your mom wouldn’t mind you blaming her if it helps you get out of a difficult situation.
I’m glad you still care about your friend. That’s kind and generous of you to give her another chance. We all make mistakes sometimes! I’m confident that the two of you can make sure this situation never happens again.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.
And be sure to check out my funny and practical books for kids about friendship: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.