Do you struggle with raising assertive kids? Children are not necessarily born assertive or not assertive. It is a trait that can be stronger in certain children, but that does not mean that kids not born with natural assertiveness cannot learn to stand up for what’s right.
It’s good to know your child’s weaknesses, strengths, love languages and personality tendencies, but don’t let that information cause you to put a label on your child. Labels box your kids in. They stick and can be hard to remove for many years.
If you feel like your child does not lean towards assertiveness and lacks the ability to stand up for what’s right, they need practice and guidance. Being assertive in the right way is a tension for kids and many adults. Here’s how you can help your children:
Give them a solid foundation of right and wrong. Make sure your children understand honesty and integrity and the reasons why they are important. Establish family core values and talk about them as often as you can. Be on the alert for teachable moments to discuss those core values.
Don’t interfere with your child’s friend struggles. Listen, ask questions, and coach them on what they can do, but let THEM resolve the issues.
Try role playing. If your child is unsure of how to deal with a conflict or problem with teachers, coaches, or friends, use role playing as a teaching tool. Help your child think through what they could say and how they can stand up for themselves.
Nurture compassion in your child. Take every opportunity to help your child develop compassion. Whether it’s sharing with a sibling, caring for an elderly neighbor, serving in the community, and most importantly teach your kids the importance of loving and accepting people who are different than them. Look for opportunities where they can serve others who are less fortunate.
Acknowledge when others do good and stand up for what’s right. Avoid a lecture and stick to casual comments when you see someone doing something that is brave or right. “That’s cool. Did you see how he stood up for his friend? I like that.” And then drop it.
Affirm your child. Notice when they stand up for something that is right and comment on it. Let them know that you believe in them and know they have the strength to do what is right.
Avoid solving all our child’s problems. Are they struggling with their grades? Unhappy about their playing time in sports? As tempting it is for you to jump in, take the reins, and find resolutions to the problems, let your child take the lead in this. The younger they are, the more you will have to coach them through it. But as they get older, you may become more of a sounding board and supporter, rather their a problem solver.
It’s hard for parents to step back, but the more that we can do so, the more our kids will bloom and grow into confident and assertive adults who know how to stand up for what’s right.
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