It’s not just about bullying. Any parent wants their child to have good relationships and for it to be mutually respectful. You also want them to be headstrong and able to deal with peer pressure. However, social structures can be complex, and you want them to be in a position where they are neither bullies nor being bullied.
We all want the best for our kids. Heaven forbid, the type of parent that gets too involved in their children’s lives, the last thing you want to do is embarrass or worst, push them away. However, there are things you can do to help them prepare for the world out there.
Here are a few ways that will allow you to raise more assertive children.
"If we are more focused on tending to our children’s mental and physical needs but ignore their emotional needs, we are making them an easy target for being submissive to others’ wishes and demands."
Of course you love your child and naturally you want to nurture their interests and that’s probably what has led you to this article.
Expressing your love and affection for your child does not translate into buying them the best toys or giving in to their demands. Instead, be present in their lives. Give them the attention they desire and celebrate their wins and importantly their losses, I talked about this before in helping to build self-confidence. Appreciate every moment you spend with them and let them know how important it is.
Creating meaningful connections is more valued than material possessions. In doing this, we help our children to be more confident about relationships with others and help them to identify relationships that are more meaningful to them.
Know Their Emotional Needs
If we really want to raise kids with integrity, we have to understand that in the majority of cases, manipulation starts on an emotional level.
If we are more focused on tending to our children’s mental and physical needs but ignore their emotional needs, we are making them an easy target for being submissive to others’ wishes and demands.
Many parents understand the rationale behind respecting and upholding the emotional needs of their kids, but only a few of them succeed at including it in their parenting style. The reason is simple! Some parents have difficulty respecting their child’s emotional boundaries.
One way to remain committed to these needs is being mindful of your interactions with your kids and this is something I’m personally trying to develop more because we can easily take them for granted. Also, consider your child as an individual, not an extension of yourself.
Listen to Them
In more precise terms, try to be an active listener. Many of us can be guilty of not doing enough of this but try to respond instead of reacting.
Focus on what they are trying to say instead of what they are saying. Listening will only help you understand your child’s emotions more accurately. Remind yourself that active and empathic listening has no room for judgment. Ditch the judgment!
With adequate practice and enough expression about their emotions, they will learn to embrace and respect the range of emotions. Over time, your child will start to embrace their feelings and become better at dealing with them.
"If you become offensive or defensive while sharing your viewpoint, your children will get trapped into an emotional state which is dictated by shame and/or anger"
Respect Their Refusal To Do Certain Things
Listening and knowing their emotions is just the first step towards raising the level of assertiveness in your child. If you are combining this practice of listening and understanding with respect - in words and actions - of their opinion and interests, only then they will feel heard and seen.
While it’s useful and beneficial to define a code of ethics for your family, it’s also important to accept the codes your children define for themselves. This could be not wanting to eat their brussels sprouts for example. (But you have to ensure that both the decisions and their consequences are in line with your style of parenting)
Know that you are the biggest role model for your children. If you are comfortable with your habits or attitude, your children will consider that attribute as if it’s normal, something I’ve referenced before.
The same holds for your expression and voice. If you comfortably express yourself and share your opinion, your children will learn that it’s normal to speak your mind.
On the other hand, if you become offensive or defensive while sharing your viewpoint, your children will get trapped into an emotional state which is dictated by shame and/or anger. If you are not frank about your feelings, it’s never too late to start changing your behaviour and mindset.
Ingraining the right attitude in your children should be the first and most effective step in developing their level of assertiveness.
Communicate to them about any social challenges they are facing and offer them guidance.
If they feel needy or dependent on you, let them know you are their rock and you will be there to help if they really need it, but encourage them to trust their own judgments to deal with situations on their own, this is important for developing self-confidence.
They may fail, at times. At other times, they may make you proud. In either case, you have to lend them a listening ear so they can understand their inner emotions and learn to manage it better.
Assertiveness is a crucial ingredient that fosters our social interactions. This quality is even more essential in the wake of bullying, manipulation, and emotional abuse that goes on in the playground.
The foundation of assertiveness lies in respecting one’s emotions. And as a parent, it’s your duty to teach your child the proper method of respecting their emotions.
What steps do you take to ensure that your children are heard at your home and their social circle? Let us know your thoughts.