So often young children believe that in order to stay friends with someone, we must agree with them, like the things they like and do the things they want to do. Model to your child that disagreement doesn’t always mean a fall out, a difference of opinion can be seen as normal, healthy and even encouraged!
Try and celebrate those small moments when your child does take an opportunity to speak up, this might involve praising them when they tell a friend to stop doing something they don’t like, when they’ve spoken up about being given the incorrect thing, or even just sharing a different opinion to a sibling.
Explain to your child that boundaries are decisions and actions we take to help ourselves and others feel safe and happy. Sometimes others might prefer us to make a different decision (give an example of a boundary you’ve set at home) but it’s important to stick to what is and isn’t ok for us. One simple way of applying this is listening and respecting your child when they set their own boundaries – this might involve needing their own personal space or not wanting to hug or kiss a relative.
If we take away all the decision making and opportunity for independent thought, our child may struggle to assert themselves because they lack experience in connecting to what they think, want and feel. Allow them to make their own choices and decisions, knowing that there will be times when you may need to set some limits, which will only provide another opportunity to demonstrate how to assert yourself!
Many children struggle to assert themselves simply because they don’t know what language to use and how to express themselves. Focusing on themselves as opposed to others helps them stay firmly in the assertive category; the minute we start directing our responses at others and blaming or accusing, we edge closer to the aggressive. Teach your child to define how they think, what they feel and what they need. ‘I have a different idea’, ‘I feel upset when I’m the only one not invited’, ‘I don’t like it when you say that’, ‘I need some time out’.
Our life skill courses provide the perfect opportunity for your child to practice asserting themselves through sharing their thoughts and ideas within a group of peers. Our courses explore different aspects of life skills such as leadership language, how to disagree and say no, and negotiation & conflict resolution. We also offer a free 2 week trial for your child to try the online sessions before you commit.