If you ask anyone to define assertiveness, you’ll no doubt get different responses depending on the age and circumstances of the individual. When it relates to a child, the challenge involves being able to communicate effectively without force to change the way they behave.
It’s a technique in how parents raise and interact with children that requires a parent to develop the abilities to connect with children to meet a need. It is not about giving in or setting vague boundaries to quite a child. It about sending the wrong message through the use of incorrect words, intense emotions, or confusing physical gestures.
Something to keep in mind, nobody is born with assertiveness skills assertiveness skills . It’s a learned skill that comes in handy when dealing with childhood tantrums and arguments.
The benefits, purpose, and goal of being firm and assertive
When adults are assertive with children, they demonstrate a willingness to listen, while remaining in charge (being firm) and still making sure the child’s needs are met. For example, lack of sleep affects kids and adults.
1. Set limits
Periodically agree to extend bedtime 15 minutes with conditions and stick to it. The solution offers an opportunity for the child to participate.
2. Politely refuse with an explanation
It’s already past a reasonable bedtime, or there’s an early start tomorrow morning.
Remember whom you are talking to – keep language levels appropriate to age – no drama or demanding gestures.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Don’t bully or intimidate children.
- Treat them as you want to be treated.
To be effective, adults have to be clear with children rather than act against them to reach a balanced understanding. Recognize that you play an essential role in the child’s development. As tricky as it going to be, control your emotions when resolving conflict with a child.
Say no for the right reasons
Knowing when to say no is difficult. Saying no without conflict is even more challenging, but not impossible. Being assertive with children is about building a healthy relationship, where the child realizes that you empathize with their plea. The reason for saying no has to do with what’s best for them, not just what’s convenient for you.
- Being too lax sends a message that your authority can be challenged or disobeyed.
- Being too assertive can trigger adverse reactions with after-effects: tantrums.
- Identify what’s fair and what’s not.
- Explain why, keep it short and be honest.
How you communicate plays a critical role in dealing with children. It’s about finding symmetry between the child’s wants and the adult’s needs. Set the tone by making time to see the child’s viewpoint before jumping in or enforcing your demands.
Negotiating with children
This isn’t easy, but don’t underestimate the child. Children are great negotiators, mostly because they are focused on one thing – getting what they want. Encourage interaction. Here’s a chance for a child to see that their opinions and feelings matter.
Allow the child to start the conversation. By listening and responding as clearly as possible, you can help a child realize that they won’t always get what they want. However, in some cases, the rules are flexible and can be adjusted.
- Maintain your position.
- Be proactive.
- Offer alternatives that avoid further conflict.
If the challenge is to successfully negotiate a later bedtime with a six or seven-year-old, it will later develop into a compromise on a weekend curfew with a teenager. You can see the correlation and the value of implementing these parenting tips during the younger years.
Boundaries and limitations
Being firm and assertive is comprised of boundaries, each set with limits for safety and health reasons. From time to time, the boundaries are broken, allowing new issues to come through while closing others off completely. For parents, these qualities are in place for the health of a child. For the child, boundaries are learned skills to help protect them from harm.
Assertiveness with children isn’t about power struggles; it’s about getting a child to cooperate – this requires a team effort. Although the words are read easily, accomplishing the task is not. Before enforcing boundaries, make sure they are well-formed and established to meet the needs of the individuals involved and agreeable with the objectives.
- Be consistent.
- Be realistic.
- Be effective.
- Set appropriate age boundaries.