How to Increase Assertiveness in Children

by Tiffany Raiford

There is a big difference between teaching your child to be assertive and aggressive. Teaching her to be assertive means she will learn how to let others understand what it is she wants versus teaching her to be aggressive, which means she will learn to force her needs and wants onto others. Being assertive is a trait that will benefit your child throughout her life, in her relationships with others, in school and in her future career.

Encourage your child to speak up when she wants something, advises KidsHealth. When you ask her if she wants to play outside or inside and she responds by telling you she doesn’t know, encourage her to take a second to think about it and speak up. Saying she doesn’t know is passive and doesn't display assertiveness. When she wants something or has an opinion, encourage her to speak up, even if you cannot accommodate her at the moment.

Model assertiveness for your child, advises Pediatric Services. If your husband asks what you want for dinner and you are tempted to tell him that you’ll have whatever he wants, stop yourself and tell him exactly what you want. When you model assertiveness, your child is more likely to learn to be assertive. Some children don’t realize that there is an option between being pushed around and being bossy, and seeing you model that middle ground teaches them they can do the same.

Teach your child to be assertive while still being respectful. When people disagree with her, encourage her to keep her voice calm and refrain from calling them names or accusing them of being wrong. It may help her to be more assertive when she learns that her opinion is just as important as everyone else’s and that there is no right or wrong when it comes to opinions.

Discipline her behavior rather than her personality, advises Pediatric Services. If she’s whining, tell her you don’t like her behavior at the moment rather than telling her to stop acting like a brat. When you criticize her personality she may begin to feel that she’s unworthy of an opinion, which can cause her self-esteem to plummet and her assertiveness level to drop.

Encourage your child to practice being assertive at all times, such as asking someone to pass the milk at breakfast, advises KidsHealth. Small acts of assertiveness can help her build up to being more assertive in public places, such as school.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

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