There’s a way to be assertive without being rude or aggressive, but many people think that in order to make themselves heard, they have to push people around. Your teen might already have this idea and as a result might either shy away from asking for what they want or be too assertive when asking for something. Here are some ways to encourage your teen to be assertive in a healthy and productive way.
Knowing When to be Assertive
Being assertive can either mean asking for help or asking for something you need or want. This could include asking for another practice quiz from your teacher or asking your classmates to settle down and concentrate so you can focus on the group project.
Determining why we are asking for something will help us decide the tone we should take and whether we should be asking at all. Teach your child to be assertive when something is actually needed or will help them succeed—not just because they want it or feel like they deserve to have it. If your teen feels there is a genuine need for something to happen, then they will likely be more polite and confident when approaching another person or group of people.
Types of Communication
Communication skills are necessary to succeed in this world. When a time comes to be assertive, there are certain things you should consider regarding proper communication. Here are a few basic guidelines to follow when having an assertive conversation, including:
- Have a face-to-face conversation—avoid texting or sending emails
- Don’t fidget
- Speak slowly and clearly and be specific about your intentions with the conversation
- Be calm and speak softly—avoid talking to someone when you are heated or emotional
- Don’t use words like “I feel” or “It’s only fair”. Instead, simply state the circumstances and take any emotional or judgemental language out of it.
Teach Them the Reason for Being Assertive
Your teen should understand what benefits there are to standing up for yourself. It can earn you respect in the eyes of your peers or teachers and help you achieve things you might otherwise not have been able to. Teach them that assertiveness should not be used to get their way or for vengeance of any kind; that they should be polite and calm, but firm when speaking to someone. They should also understand that there is a time and a place to keep pushing and a time to let something go.
Teaching assertiveness to your teen may take time, and that’s okay—especially if they are naturally shy or anxious. There are different approaches to being assertive, so teach your child the basic reasons behind speaking clearly and with purpose and let him or her figure out the best way for her to approach the situation.
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