In FamilyWise


by Mrs. May Gruia
CHA Social Worker (Grades K-8)
Mrs. Gruia has a heart for the social and emotional development of children of all ages, and we are excited as she shares helpful insights for our parents. Look for her articles here and in CHA’s Parents’ Page newsletter.

Developing Assertiveness Skills

Can I copy your homework?
Did you hear what Sally did? Let me tell you all about it!
Come over to my house today – my parents aren’t home. 

How do we teach our children to stand up for their values while not offending others? Assertiveness is a lifelong skill that contributes to the development of interpersonal and social aptitude.

A study noted that “one goal we should have as parents and educators is to help children become assertive and emotionally intelligent individuals.” Assertiveness is a way of communicating where one person’s viewpoint and need is clearly and respectfully stated without hurting anyone else’s feelings or disrespecting others. This is a very important skill that can be taught, even if the child is considered “shy” or introverted.

Children who learn assertiveness skills are more likely to stand up for themselves and others. As important as standing up for oneself is, assertiveness also helps children more effectively communicate with the people around them, develop effective interpersonal behaviors, and improve their self-efficacy.

Parents are one of children’s most effective role-models. Expressing yourself in an assertive (as opposed to aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive) manner, is highly effective. How adults communicate with the people around them greatly impacts the communication style of the child (find out more here).

A few other techniques that Erickson and Noonan suggest are to calmly:

o Repeat, Repeat – student gives the same response over and over again.
o Refuse to Discuss – student uses words and body language to indicate s/he does not
want to engage in a discussion. This could include walking away.
o Fogging – coming up with an excuse … to avoid an inappropriate or unsafe situation.
o Compromise – offering a suggestion that meets the needs of both individuals.

One very important aspect to being assertive is the ability to stay calm while expressing oneself. This article features some great examples of the above techniques. Overall, I believe Focus on The Family sums it up best: “children who are well-schooled in assertive living … are more likely to become powerful and redemptive forces for good.”