Let's face it. It's a tougher time to be growing up, and the data confirms it. Bullying is fiercer. Peer pressure is tougher. Kids are also more aggressive at younger ages. Girls are meaner. Of course we can't always be there to pick up the pieces or help our kids stand up for themselves, nor should we. After all, the more our children see us as their rescuers, the more they learn to rely on us to solve their problems. The secret is help our kids learn how to be more assertive and speak up for themselves.
Here are seven ways to help your child learn to be respectfully assertive.
- Model assertiveness. Be the model you want your child to copy. Don't be meek. Stand up for your views even if they may not be unpopular. Let your kids know that even though you might feel uncomfortable, you always feel it's best to stand up for your rights or the rights of others.
- Be a democratic household. Hold debates. Use family meetings. Listen to each child (it doesn't mean you agree with them). When kids know their opinions count they are more likely to speak out and feel comfortable doing it.
- Acknowledge your child's assertiveness. Let your child know you value people who speak their mind. Reinforce your child's assertiveness. "I like how you spoke up!" Reinforce those behaviors in your child and let her know you honor her opinions.
- Find less domineering friends. If your child is a bit more timid and always hangs around a bossy playmate, provide him the opportunity to find a less domineering pal so he will be more likely to speak up and gain confidence.
- Provide early leadership opportunities. New research from the Girl Scouts of America says kids say their confidence in speaking up and leading others dwindles by the fifth grade. Kids also tell us they gain that confidence is by entering into activities, clubs, team building, etc. and the earlier the better. So provide opportunities for your child to be a member of a team, take charge of a project or lead others. You might enroll your child in public speaking or theatre to build confidence in speaking in front of others.
- Teach your child C.A.L.M. assertion. There are four steps that help kids stand up and speak up for themselves or others. Here are the four steps to C.A.L.M.
C - Stay Cool. If you get upset, ticked off, cry, pout you don't appear as confident.
A - Assert yourself. Teach your child a few comeback lines to say in different situations.
L - Look the person in the eye. The best way to appear more confident is by using eye contact.
M - Mean it. Teach your child the difference between how a wimpy and a strong voice sound. Then encourage your child to assert himself using a strong and firm tone--but not yelling tone--to get his point across.
- Role-play assertive posture, assertive phrases and a firm-sounding tone until your child has the confidence to hold his own without you. And when he does, congratulate yourself. You will have taught your child a critical skill that he will need to use in every arena of his life but now and forever.
Do you have thoughts or questions on helping your child become more assertive? Leave a comment below!