Good article to read. But this applies to everyone, no matter how old. Being assertive and confident is crucial. We see WAY TOO MANY “cautious,” scared individuals in our travels. As the saying goes… “grow a pair, please!”
Also – with kids, we sadly see way too many parents who just plop a phone or tablet in their kids hands when they’re out and about (at the shopping mall for instance). It’s painful to watch. You should use EVERY opportunity to interact directly with your children. Because before you know it – they’re “all grown up,” and the damage is done!
Assertive Children Are Happy Children
Happiness is not about having a lot of toys or getting everything we ask for. Happiness is satisfaction, self-esteem, and a healthy love for ourselves. This is why assertive children are more confident, cheerful and easily relate with everyone and everything around them.
Assertive children are happy children because they learned to communicate exactly how they feel and what they want. Because they rise up knowing their limits and boundaries, thus improving their social performance.
Note that regardless of the fact that some people are excellent at interpersonal relationships, their social competence isn’t innate. As a parent, or even just as an adult who interacts with a child now and then, keep in mind that you’re a role model for every little one you come into contact with. Be the example they should follow to develop healthy social skills.
We could say, rather confidently, that sometimes we either neglect to provide children with the models they really need. Yes, we want them to succeed in life so we enroll them in the best schools (right after they’re born). We pay for and fill their schedules with all sorts of activities such as sports, music, and languages.
We even go as far as staying in touch with their teachers to make sure they’re right on schedule with their lessons. In addition, we also care about and have a say in the type of people they come into contact with, especially those they befriend. We pay attention to everything they do, even in regard to their use of technology such as TV and electronic devices.
Isn’t that Enough to Raise Assertive Children?
Yes, you’re doing the best you can as a parent. However, are you as proud of your emotional intelligence? How about your social skills? We only ask because many of us take those things for granted. Things such as self-esteem, assertiveness, and even self-concept are part of our genetic code. Furthermore, they’re shaped as we grow.
Now, let’s not get it wrong. These are traits that should be nurtured daily. It requires a delicate, intuitive, and firm guiding hand to raise children with skills in every basic area in their life. Skills that will bring them happiness and psychological well-being. Let’s delve deeper into an essential value: assertiveness.
“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
How to Raise Assertive Children
In order to raise assertive children, you’ll need patience and sensitivity. Often, parents, mothers, and even educators say there are two types of boys and girls:
- Those who argue all the time. The ones who are always frustrated and sulking because they assume that nearly everyone is against them because they can’t do or have what they want whenever they want.
- On the other hand, there are those who are withdrawn and passive. The ones who never express how they feel. In fact, they seldom complain. These are the children who are often the easy target of bullies. Their lack of assertiveness often results in two extremes: passivity or aggressiveness. Unfortunately for them, none of these lead to good consequences.
Thus, being able to raise assertive children is a way to invest in their happiness. This is the subject of studies such as the one published by Gertrude E. Chittenden in the Society for Research in Child Development. We’re investing in and contributing to the creation of a respectful society.
Teach Children about the World and Show Them Boundaries
In order to raise assertive children, you must instill the following idea in them at an early age: the world is full of boundaries and we all must respect them. Educating a child isn’t just about telling them what’s good and what’s bad. There’s a lot more to it than morality: Things such as civility, respect to all creatures, and the need to adapt to social codes in order to coexist.
The world is full of physical, emotional, and even financial limits. For example, we shouldn’t spend money on things we don’t need.
Children understand more than we give them credit for. Moreover, even before speaking fluently, they already understand a lot more than they can express. Thus, it’s never too early to begin teaching them the following principles:
- “I can express what I feel without fear, but respectfully.”
- “Mom and dad aren’t going to punish me for anything I say. They’re my safety net and I can express myself freely around them. In addition, I can even tell them about my negative emotions: what scares me, makes me angry, and worries me.”
- “I should listen to what others are telling me and do so respectfully.”
- “I understand that I can’t always get what I want. Little by little, I’ll learn to be patient and to tolerate my frustration.”
Assertive Children Need Role Models
Another essential thing here is we can’t ask children to comply with rules that we don’t follow ourselves. Thus, if you talk to your spouse aggressively and disrespectfully, then your children will imitate your communication style.
If you care to raise assertive and happy children, then be more than a role model. Be their daily inspiration as well.
State Their Duties but Respect Their Choices and Give Them Privacy
Children, especially from the age of age, are going to demand their own space and privacy. It’s something parents should respect. This way, you’ll earn their trust and they’ll feel safe to share things with you at any given moment.
Another way to boost their assertiveness is by giving them responsibilities that are appropriate to their age. It boosts their sense of competence and self-worth.
Emotional Intelligence and Assertiveness
Last, but not least, parents and educators should instill emotional intelligence in children. It’ll help them manage their emotions, control their impulses, and improve their social skills. Emotional communication is fundamental to their daily life.
As you can see, there are many concepts and values you must instill in your children. It’ll open a whole new world to them and, little by little, they’ll become assertive. It’s an adventure that’ll last forever. There’ll be bad times and good times, so be patient. First and foremost, be attentive. Be that kind observer that knows when to jump in at any given moment.
- Avşar, F., & Ayaz Alkaya, S. (2017). The effectiveness of assertiveness training for school-aged children on bullying and assertiveness level. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 36, 186–190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2017.06.020
- Christian, D., & McNeish, H. (1995). Assertiveness. Journal of Advanced Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.22010198.x