Teaching Your Child How to be Assertive
Some of you parents have all been the oldest child and unfortunately, at times it may have seemed that you were the experimental child. It depends on how you were raised and genetics have something to do with the term assertive. Many children that are the oldest seem to be a bit more reserved and quiet. This doesn’t mean all of the oldest children are this way, however; face it the oldest child doesn’t have an older sibling to look up to. Then sometimes they have to hear one of their parents say Susie is so quiet, while Johnny is more assertive, so how do we handle raising an assertive child as parents?
There is a big difference in assertiveness versus aggressiveness. When someone is assertive you are making eye contact and letting the other person know that you have wants and needs. When one is aggressive the person is pushing their wants and needs on others in an impolite manner. Parents always want to raise their children to stand up for themselves in a proper manner. We all know as parents you can’t spoil a newborn baby because their wants and needs are expressed by assertive crying. You want to give your newborn a sense of security by meeting their demands.
Your child is now becoming a toddler and it’s time to start some discipline for their own safety. In addition, toddlers are smart so you don’t want your toddler running your life by giving in. You have to set boundaries. Toddlers will mimic you so use good judgment when setting boundaries, if you are too strict you may create a child that speaks their mind and becomes a bully. Never belittle your child either, or they will start developing low self-esteem problems. Here are a few good examples of raising an assertive child.
Be consistent and just because you may be cranky don’t change the rules. This will confuse your child which in turn makes it harder for them to understand the rules. This also makes it more difficult for your child to vocalize their wants and needs.
Briefly talk about your expectation
Explain why they have to go to bed at a decent time, don’t use negativity and say “because I am the boss.” if your child asks why?
Teach your child how to speak up
A child starts to socialize closer to 3 and now is the time to encourage your passive child to toughen up. If your child is always getting pushed around at the park or on the playground, your child may think this is normal if they are passive and afraid to speak up. Children don’t know about a middle ground yet as far as giving in and pushing back. Explain to your child to be fair and help them understand how they could handle a similar situation in the future. You can always role play.
Please discourage your child from peer pedestals
All children want to fit in and sometimes they begin to copy another child’s behavior or way of dressing. Tell your child that they are perfectly able to make their own choices and no one is going to like them any less for doing so. If your child’s friend is rather sullen and your child is a peacemaker, teach your child that their friend doesn’t really dislike them and no one is really going dislike your child for not giving in.
Tell your child in some cases maybe they have a friend who doesn’t really respect their ideas. Explain to your child that this is a part of life and this will most likely happen throughout their adult life and you are keeping the door open for a conversation at any time. Don’t get upset if your child is still shy, sometimes these shy children grow into themselves and later become very assertive.
Let your child make choices
Don’t tell your child what to do all the time because they are not learning anything. Encourage your child to make decisions about what kind of birthday party or theme they might want or what activity they would like to play. One of the keys to being assertive is the right to make good choices. Your goal is to let your child learn to make choices so they may gain the confidence to be assertive without being confrontational.
Let your child think for themselves
Once your child is fluent in speaking correct sentences, let them give their opinion even if you don’t always agree with them. Don’t shoot your child down everytime you don’t like what they are saying or they will shy away from being assertive. Children are very sensitive and emotional beings and will shut down their feelings. They may carry this into adulthood and you wouldn’t want to find out when your child is 40, that you totally misunderstood their feelings. In addition, sometimes there is not always one right answer in life and the sooner you let your child know this the better. This helps them gain more confidence in their ability to succeed. The dinner table can be a great place to have family conversations. This might be the only time of the day that you are all in one place. Listen carefully to your child or children discuss their wants and needs of the day and you will be surprised what a five-year-old can teach you. Don’t feel guilty about discipline. All children need discipline and maybe you might have resented discipline growing up, however; you would not be the person you are today.
Your child will realize later in life that the discipline came out of your anxiousness to keep them safe and teach them right from wrong. You will be amazed at how assertive your child will become.