our everyday life

Exercises for Teaching Assertiveness in Teens

by Susan McCammon, studioD
Your teen can learn how to become less aggressive and more assertive through team sports.

Your teen can learn how to become less aggressive and more assertive through team sports.

Assertive teens express themselves in confident, honest and respectful ways. Passive or aggressive teens lack assertiveness and may find it difficult to socialize with peers. Teenagers who are not assertive may become de-motivated as others easily have their way with them. Some teens may lack assertiveness due to lack of confidence, stress and sensitivity to criticism, states KidsHealth. Exercises that build self-confidence, reduce aggressiveness, improve communication and lower stress may help teens become assertive.


Teenage stress, which may be due to academic and social pressures, makes some teens withdrawn, aggressive or anxious. This makes it difficult for them to communicate with peers or adults confidently. Exercises that increase the need for oxygen can help the teen ease any tension they feel and develop a positive attitude. Aerobic exercises are effective in achieving this objective as they release endorphins, neurochemicals that make a person feel good, reports Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit multi-specialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Some aerobic exercises include swimming, cycling and brisk walking.

Role Play

Passiveness, fear or anger, can reduce a teen’s ability to speak assertively. With repeated practice, a teen can learn to build assertiveness. Engaging in role play with a friend is an effective way of practicing how to give assertive responses, according to Clay Tucker-Ladd, Ph.D, reporting in PsychCentral. Role play involves enacting real-life situations that warrant assertiveness. For instance, you can assume the role of a teacher and ask your teen child to approach you with a question. Together, you can go over the performance until the teen is able to speak assertively (neither passively nor aggressively).

Team Sports

Assertiveness entails communicating confidently. Nevertheless, aggressiveness, due to factors such as genetics, abuse, anxiety or lack of sleep, may hamper some teens’ ability to communicate assertively. You may help such teens learn to become less aggressive and more assertive through team sports, advises Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., writing for Helpguide.org. Team sports can help your teen learn cooperation, communication and patience. Since sports involve the use of a lot of energy, they can help to ease depression, improve sleep patterns and communication skills, and boost self-esteem.

Artistic Exercises

Low self-esteem may hinder a teen’s ability to confidently talk to peers and adults. This may make affected teens miss out on important experiences and opportunities, which may further lower their self-esteem. Therefore, boosting self-confidence may improve assertiveness. Artistic activities that require mastery and use of energy, such as dancing, may help improve self-esteem, psychiatrist Neel Burton, Ph.D, states in Psychology Today. Additionally, artistic activities such as dancing may improve self-expression and positive interaction with peers.

About the Author

Susan McCammon began writing in 1997. Her work has been published in various online publications. She is a teacher and educator with experience teaching first grade, special education and working with children ages 0 to 3. McCammon holds a Ph.D in Psychology from University of South Carolina.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images