Teaching Children to be Respectfully Assertive


The other day my child came home from school upset.  But, she was afraid to do anything about it, because she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  She was afraid to stand up for her own rights.

We live in a world where people seem to be always scared of each other, how do we teach our children to be Respectfully Assertive?

But, this seems to be fairly common.  We live in a world where people are scared of people.  We can’t disagree with anyone, for fear of offending them.  We can’t stand up for our rights.  We can’t even look someone in the eye.  We all seem to walk around scared.

Why?  Why has it gotten to the point that we can’t even express our opinions without fear of offending someone?  We are afraid that we might be sued.  We are afraid that we might lose our job.  And, these are real fears.

But, something has to change!

Our children are so important.  They are our future.  They are the future of the world.

We live in a world where people seem to be always scared of each other, how do we teach our children to be Respectfully Assertive?

I hold nothing higher than my responsibility to raise successful children.  But how?

How do we break them from this cycle?

How do we teach them not to be scared of other humans?

How do we teach them to stand up for their rights?

How do we teach them that they have rights to stand up for?

How do we teach them to respectfully disagree?

While I want them to succeed academically, I also want them to be assertive.  I want them to be respectful.  I want them to be able to stand up for their rights, and for the rights of others.  I don’t want them to stand back and allow someone else to mistreat them or those who are around them.

I know these are lofty goals.  I know that what I’m asking for doesn’t come easily.  I teach high school.  I see how kids just stand back and allow the world to happen to them.  But, there are the few that don’t.  They are the ones who stand up for themselves and others.  They are the ones that demand that their rights be respected.

Now, I want to make myself clear.  I don’t want to teach my children to be disrespectful, rude, or to put other people down in order to lift themselves up.  I want them to be respectfully assertive.  I want them to fight for their rights in appropriate ways.

We live in a world where people seem to be always scared of each other, how do we teach our children to be Respectfully Assertive?But how?

We’re going to to have to teach them.  We need to show them what being respectfully assertive means.

The next time your child comes home upset about something.  Find out what it is.  Find out what happened, and why your child is feeling this way.  Next, role play with your child what they need to do.  Practice it with them.  Teach them that it’s okay to be upset, but it’s not okay to hurt someone else because of it.  Encourage them to follow through with the plan, then follow up on it.

This might look something like this:

Your child comes home from school upset.  You find out that your child feels like the teacher treated him/her unfairly.  Perhaps they punished the whole class for something or unjustly blamed your child for something that happened.

Sit down with your child.  Go through their feelings.  Find out why they think this happened and what they feel should have happened instead.  Work with your child to find a solution that they feel would be acceptable to all parties.

Practice with your child going up to the teacher in a private moment, perhaps before school or during recess.  Practice with the child all the steps of this process, starting with them asking to meet with the teacher privately.  Work on the wording that they will use.

Next, work with your child on the conversation they will have with their teacher.  Teach them how to respectfully share their feelings, and their solution.  Practice this with them.

Now, when they come home from school the next day, you are going to have to debrief with them.  Did they meet with their teacher?  How did the conversation go?  What was resolved?

By doing this, your child will learn the steps to be assertive and how to stand up for their rights in a respectful way.

This a process that will need to be repeated multiple times with a lot of patience.  Role playing is key for success.  But, over time your child will become more respectfully assertive and better able to stand up for what they believe is right.

They also need to see you do the same things.  Let them hear stories from you about when you stood up for your rights.

I have also found some programs that I feel can help children to be more respectfully assertive that I will share in my next blog post.

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