Refusal Skills


Written by Dennis Cunningham, Health Instructor

Taunton High School

Externship site:  Johnson & Johnson

Lesson 1




Grade level:

            High School/Middle School



            Communication techniques build self esteem



Students will produce their own role play where their boundaries of acceptable behavior will be challenged.



Keep their friends, have fun, stay out of trouble and stay in control.



After being instructed in the five steps of refusal skills, the class will leave the room under the teacher’s direction to a different environment, exit, hallway, parking lot, anywhere that has sufficient room.  Each student will have written on a piece of paper an activity that would be beyond his/her boundaries of right or wrong (example; drinking beer, smoking).  Students then line up in two lines facing each other.  The students in line “A” would then take the forbidden activity from the opposite student in line “B” and try to talk that student into trying that activity.  Students in line “B” would then use their refusal skills to get out of the situation after sufficient time has been spent getting out of the situation (ten seconds should be enough).  Have the students slide down to a new student and repeat the activity four or five role plays should be enough for each student.  At that time, have students in each line change their roles.  Students and teachers should critique each role play when finished.



Refusal skills:



Ask questions (what, why?)


Name the trouble.


State the consequences (if I do that)


Suggest an alternative (why not?)


Move it, sell it, and leave the door open (if you change your mind)


Using refusal skills under pressure:



Stay calm


Say the persons name and make eye contact


Say “listen to me”


Pause to see if the person is listening


If the person still doesn’t listen after two or three times of saying “listen to me” then leave, saying “if you change your mind, call me later”


Teacher tips:



Work with all different types of student combinations


Get input in critiquing all the roles to keep student’s attention and involvement


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