Children are like blank canvases. They’re able to paint their own picture with the values and skills they internalize. In this article, we’ll tell you what assertiveness is and how to teach it to children.
Assertiveness is the ability to react to any type of situation with common sense. In other words, to react, not with violence or aggression, but passively. In fact, when we speak of an assertive person, we mean they’re empathetic and capable of reacting in a sensible way. Furthermore, they express their emotions and are respectful with others. They aren’t prone to aggressive outbursts and manage to correctly assess the type of approach required in each individual situation.
Assertiveness is halfway between passivity and aggression. In other words, it falls somewhere between the child who allows themselves to be easily subdued without considering their own needs and the aggressive child who isn’t particularly empathetic or tolerant and doesn’t consider other people’s opinions and feelings.
The benefits of teaching children assertiveness
Assertiveness makes it easier for children to develop in an environment that accepts them and encourages them to explore their talents. Furthermore, it helps them to be understood and empowers them. Assertiveness allows children to:
- Communicate their emotions, ideas, and opinions.
- Defend their own rights and respect other people’s.
- Not be easily influenced by others.
- Not experience feelings of guilt.
- Be respectful and tolerant. However, they won’t be submissive or excessively passive.
- Be able to say no to situations that might be harmful. This is because they won’t be easily influenced by others.
- Be afraid of what others say and share their opinions in an unbiased way.
- Be able to listen to the opinions of others and accept them.
- Have a greater tolerance to all types of attitudes, behaviors, opinions, and advice.
- Avoid manipulating others nor allow others to manipulate them.
- Align their emotions with their ideas, values, and personal ethics.
- Cultivate balance and emotional awareness.
- Practice self-regulation.
Teaching children assertiveness
Now that you know the many benefits of assertiveness, we’ll now tell you how to teach it to your children. This way, they’ll be able to grow up happy and emotionally healthy.
Set an example
For children to learn assertiveness, they need to see the adults around them displaying it. For this reason, you should pay attention to how you relate to, communicate with, and treat others, as your children copy you.
Create a suitable communicative environment
Children need to understand that they’re able to communicate openly and express their feelings naturally and sincerely. Also, that they’re able to talk about their worries and problems without fear of being ridiculed or made to feel vulnerable. For this reason, you should create assertive environments, where they can feel comfortable talking about their feelings and emotions.
Give them tools
It’s important to provide your children with tools for them to express themselves and speak clearly. Of course, they must learn to do this with respect and tolerance. For this reason, you should look for the most respectful ways you can find to help them express themselves properly.
You show your children how to resolve conflicts by teaching them when to negotiate and when to give in. They’ll use this skill throughout their lives, not just in their personal lives but in their social and professional lives as well.
Knowing when to say no
Many people aren’t good at saying no because they think it means they’re attacking the other person or disregarding them. However, that isn’t necessarily the case. Similarly, children must learn that they’re able to voice their own opinions. Furthermore, if they don’t want to do something, they should be able to refuse to do so without feeling guilty.
Teaching assertiveness to your children will help them become active, not passive, individuals. This way, they’ll be able to defend themselves and their ideas. In addition, they won’t need to impose their ideas on anyone. Neither will they allow ideas to be imposed on them.
“If you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you aren’t going to get very far.”