Parents will often share with me that their child relayed an incident that occurred at school that was upsetting for their child. Usually the situation was a friend said or did something that hurt their child’s feelings. Parents will tell me that don’t want to step in too soon to fix the problem and that they prefer their child stand up for themselves. The only problem is: their child is unsure what it means to be assertive.
The concept of boundaries is central to the concept of assertiveness. It is important to talk with your child about assertiveness and appropriate personal physical and emotional boundaries. Teaching your child about assertiveness and boundaries involves teaching children about respect for themselves and others.
A beginning strategy for learning to be assertive and have appropriate boundaries is feeling comfortable using an “I” message. This is a basic format:
I feel ______________________(fill in the blank with a word that describes your emotion)
When _____________________(describe the other person’s behavior)
I want _____________________(explain what you would like the other person to do)
Practice Situation: You are trying to tell a friend something important and another friend keeps interrupting you. I message: I feel______________when_______________and I want_________________________________.
Practice Situation: Your friend demands to copy your homework because she didn’t do her own because she spent all last night watching YouTube videos. You worked really hard on your homework and it took a long time to complete. I message: I feel_____________ when__________________ and I want ____________________________.
Being assertive is a skill that takes practice. But once your child understands what it means to stand up for oneself and has a strategy in place to be assertive, it is becomes easier and easier.
If you would like to learn more about how to teach your child to be assertive, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my best, Jeri