These tips will help you raise assertive kids who are confident and well-respected.
The school bus was like the wild, wild west when I was a kid.
There was an unspoken, but thoroughly known, hierarchy to the madness. The alpha-male boys and typical mean girls sat towards the back of the bus, while the rest of us filed into any other seat we could find- hoping to be ignored by those kids in the back.
Every day was as unpredictable as the next. I was a nice, quiet girl; however, that didn’t make me immune to the jerks of the bus.
It was harmless hazing, but when the bullies were on the prowl I would just sink deeper in my bus seat until it was over.
One particular day when I was feeling uncharacteristically brave, I stood up, looked them in the eyes, and loudly said “Whatever” (which actually WAS a cool comeback in the 90’s).
When that simple display of confidence stopped my hazing, I realized the power of commanding respect.
Now that I am a mother, I understand the importance imbedding this lesson in my own daughter. And it can’t hurt to teach my sons, as well.
Command Respect vs. Demand Respect
Right now, the world is as unpredictable as my middle school bus. If we want to raise strong and confident children who trust their heart, we have to give them some guidance.
To teach your children about respect, it is important to understand the difference between demanding respect and commanding respect.
To demand respect is to tell others, “You will respect me or else.” However, to command respect is to have others observe and admire your actions without threat or consequence.
It reminds me of a medieval king, from books and movies, who rules by love and instead of fear.
Luckily, these 5 simple lessons will help you teach your child how to command respect in life.
1. Explain What Assertiveness Means
There are 4 different types of communication styles, passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. Assertive is the best way to respectfully communicate with others in an open conversation.
Assertiveness refers to speaking your own mind, while still respecting the feelings of others around you. When I think of assertiveness, I think of Anna in Frozen II, who did what was right and always spoke her mind.
Use this printable guide to explain to your child what it means to be assertive.
2) Speak in “I” Statements
Open communication is a necessary ingredient to the recipe for a strong and assertive kids. Encourage your child to talk in “I” messages.
“I” statements force your child to express their own feelings, rather then placing blame on others. For example:
- “You” statement: You never listen to me
- “I” statement: I feel frustrated when I feel like I can’t express myself.
When used properly, “I” statements give a positive and efficient tone to any conversations, and encourage your child to productively express how they are feeling.
3) Set Boundaries, and Learn to Say No
When a child tells us “No!”, we often see that as a bad thing. We feel as though they are not listening to us.
In reality, the word “no” is a very important word for your child to learn how to use.
Talk to your child about boundaries, or lines that should not be crossed. Explain to them that anytime they feel uncomfortable (or a boundary has been crossed), they should feel empowered to use the word “no”. It is their right, and it must be respected (within reason of course!).
4) Take Pride in Your Perseverance and Respect Yourself
It is said that Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before successfully inventing the the light bulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison simply said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention of 1,000 steps.”
Bragging doesn’t look good on anyone. However, there is a difference between bragging and displaying pride for your own accomplishments.
Talk to your child about the positive things they do each week. Highlight moments when they were kind, succeeded, or tried their hardest. Help your child build a confident core.
Confidence will help your child trust their abilities and instincts.
Is Your Daughter a mean Girl? Read here!
5) Show Respect to Yourself and Others
Part of the give and take of any relationship is the exchange of respect. If your child wants to earn respect from others, they must show respect.
There are many ways to imbed these values in growing kids. These 5 tips will help you coach your children to be genuinely respectful humans:
You may also like: How to Teach Kids to Be Respectful
Final Thoughts on Raising Assertive Kids
These tips will help you raise confident and assertive children. Teach them to be the owl – wise and respectful.
Although the school bus might not be the dangerous jungle it used to be, we can still use day to day experiences to teach our kids to command respect.
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