For some children, being assertive comes naturally. They easily express their thoughts and feelings and have no problem standing up for what they believe in. Meanwhile, other kids struggle to express themselves, especially about things that bother them.
These skills are especially important when it comes to dealing with bullying and other offensive behaviors. If your child needs to beef up her assertiveness skills, here are seven ways you can get her started on the right path.
🟣 Highlight the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. Explain that aggressive people attempt to force other people to do what they want. Meanwhile, assertive people are comfortable sharing their feelings. They also will defend themselves or others against unfairness and ask for what they need. Assertive people also respect the needs and wishes of other people.
🟣 Allow them to make choices. Empower your children by letting them make their own choices about things they are asked to do. Assure your child that she can say no to any request that makes her uncomfortable.
🟣 Stress that they have rights. Be sure your children know they have the right to say “no.” Your child also has the right to be treated with respect, to express her feelings, to state her needs and to be proud of who she is.
🟣 Foster self-esteem. To build self-esteem in your child, listen to what she has to say. Encourage her to think for herself. Doing so will demonstrate that her thoughts, feelings and opinions matter.
🟣 Practice being assertive at home. Roleplay everyday situations that your child faces at school. Practicing assertiveness will help your child get used to expressing her needs in a safe environment. It also gives her experience in being assertive so that when the time comes to assert herself, it does not feel awkward or foreign to her.
🟣 Be aware of how you respond to their requests. As a parent, it is very easy to say no without even thinking. But when you are teaching your child assertiveness skills, you want to avoid shutting her down. Try to offer a brief explanation for your answer, especially if you are saying “no.” Sometimes kids need to be reminded that it is acceptable to ask, even if the answer is sometimes “no.”
🟣 Communicate that assertive people still ask for help. Finally, let your kids know that being assertive does not mean they cannot ask others for help, especially if they are in a situation that is unfamiliar or scary. Also, assure your child that asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, it shows she is being wise in addressing a difficult issue.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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