Character Education - The Six Pillars of Character - Citizenship

Teaching Guide:

for grades K-5

This page is from the teaching guide for the video "Saying No" in the DVD series You Can Choose!


To say "no" and make it stick, try this three-step technique. Ask yourself each of these questions, and then look your friend straight in the eye, and confidently state your position:

1.  What's the problem?
Be very specific about what is wrong. Give it a name. Say "that's stealing," or "that's dangerous," or "that's mean."

2.  What could happen?
a]  Could anyone be harmed by it (including you)?  How?
b]  Could it get you into any kind of trouble?  What trouble?
c]  Would it make you feel bad about yourself if you did it?

3.  What could we do instead?
If you suggest something else to do, it makes it easier for your friend to go along with you.

If you can't change your friend's mind, walk away, but let your friend know he or she is welcome to join you. Say something like "I'm going to the park. If you change your mind, come on over."

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the video

Buy This Video

This video teaches children:

•  That sometimes we have to say "no" to our friends.

•  Some good ideas for how to say "no" to a friend and still be cool.

•  That smoking is very definitely something to say "no" to.

see story synopsis . . .


the series
Start your kids on the path to positive, healthful life choices. This delightful video series teaches children valuable lessons that contribute to self-discipline, good decision-making, high self-esteem, a sense of responsibility, and the ability to get along with others.  more. . .

For more information about individual videos in this series, click on the title below.
•  Cooperation
•  Being Responsible
•  Dealing with Feelings
•  Saying No
•  Doing the Right Thing
•  Disappointment
•  Appreciating Yourself
•  Asking for Help
•  Being Friends
•  Resolving Conflicts

If your school or organization does not have these videos, you can purchase them from Live Wire Media, or request them from your local library.



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If you are using the video, ask the first three questions before viewing.

1.  What is peer pressure?

2.  Have you ever had to say "no" to a friend?

3.  If a friend tried to pressure you into smoking cigarettes, what would you say is wrong with smoking?

4.  Why did Rhonda think that smoking was "really fun"?

5.  Why do you think Rhonda wanted Missie to try smoking?

6.  Why did Missie have trouble choosing whether or not to smoke?

7.  How do you think Missie felt about herself for saying "no?" How do you think Rhonda felt about Missie for saying "no?"

8.  Why do people have trouble saying "no" to friends?

9.  Besides smoking, what are some other things to say "no" to?

10.  When someone suggests doing something you don't feel right about, what are some things you can do besides just saying "no?" (Ignore the suggestion, make a joke about it, change the subject, offer a better idea, etc.)

11.  Did the kids in the discussion part of the program say anything that you strongly agree or disagree with?

12.  What did you learn from this video program?

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To find teaching guides on other topics for this and other grade levels
click here.


1.  Write the three-step "How to Say No" technique (from the top of this column) on the board, and then have the group use it to perform some role-playing exercises. Take two kids at a time and start by having one try to persuade the other to smoke. Then replace smoking with other issues that pertain to this group. Have the kids who are watching critique the role-plays, identifying what worked well and what didn't. Make sure every child gets a chance to be the one who says "no."

2.  To reinforce this lesson, hold a weekly "Saying No Challenge" by repeating the kind of role-playing described in activity #1, above. Have the kids invent their own situations, and give recognition to especially creative or graceful ways of saying no.

3.  Hold a classroom brainstorming session to generate things you can say if someone is trying to get you to: shoplift, cheat, fight, pick on someone, etc. Write the ideas on the board and discuss them.

4.  Design a "Saying No" poster and keep it on display on your classroom wall. You might even have the kids design a new poster every month or two.

(If you wish to copy or use any material from this website, please click here for Terms of Use.)

Other teaching guides in this series:

  •  Cooperation
•  Being Responsible
•  Dealing with Feelings
•  Saying No
•  Doing the Right Thing

•  Disappointment
•  Appreciating Yourself
•  Asking for Help
•  Being Friends
•  Resolving Conflicts


1.  Here is an assignment you can use to help stimulate critical thinking. Have everybody cut a cigarette advertisement out of a magazine or newspaper and write a paper which addresses the following questions:

  What do you think the cigarette company is trying to say to you about smoking?

Do you agree or disagree with that message?  Why, or why not?

Have them bring the advertisements to class with their papers for a group discussion.

2.  Write a radio or TV anti-smoking commercial. If your school or organization has the facilities, you might even produce these commercials on audio or videotape.

3.  This assignment will encourage young people to play an active role in society. Have everybody write a letter to a tobacco company telling what is wrong with smoking and why the company should not try to influence people to start. If the kids have friends or relatives who became ill or died from smoking, they should mention that in their letters. Let the kids know that you are going to put all their letters into a large envelope and mail it to a tobacco company. Then, do it. If the company responds, be sure to share it with the kids.

4.  Make a list of things you plan to say "no" to if anyone ever suggests doing them. Using the three step "How to Say No" technique (see the top of this column), plan out what you will say for each thing on your list.

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To enlist the involvement of parents, make copies of the "For Parents" block (see below) and send them home with the children. Tell the children to discuss the video with their parents, and to perform the following activities.

1.  Play a "saying no" game with your parents or other members of your family. First, teach them the three-step "Saying No" technique (see the top of this column). Then, ask them to try to convince you to do something wrong while you practice using the three steps to say "no." Then, switch roles.

2.  Ask your parents or other members of your family to tell you about a time they should have said "no" but didn't. Why didn't they? If they had it to do over again, how would they do it differently? Share with them any ideas you have about how to handle the situation better. Ask them to tell you about a time they did say "no" and were glad they did.

Note to the teacher or group leader: It might be a good idea to think of some way for the children to share the outcomes of these activities with each other. Perhaps they could give written or oral reports or discuss their experiences in small groups.


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(Copy this block and send it home to the parents.)


Dear Parent,

Your child is involved in learning-activities designed to develop good character and empower young people to make good choices for themselves. He or she may be asked to complete several tasks at home. Your cooperation with these activities will support our overall program.

The current lesson is about saying "no" when a friend pressures us to do something we know is wrong or potentially harmful. We have shown a video entitled Saying No, which presents a skit and discussion about two friends in conflict over whether or not to smoke cigarettes. We urge you to ask your child to tell you about this video program and what he or she learned from it.

Here are some things you can do to encourage your children to say "no" when friends pressure them to join in on a possibly harmful activity.

Share with your child your own memories of dealing with peer pressure.

Acknowledge that it's not always easy to say "no" to a friend; but sometimes it's necessary.

Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day. Talk about your day. Keep the channels of communication open.

Discuss (don't lecture) the hazards involved in smoking or any other harmful activity your child may be under pressure to participate in.

Recognize the times, however small, when your child makes a good choice in a given situation.


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