Ideas to teach assertiveness to children

It is quite normal for a child or adolescent to perceive his difficulty in dealing with a relationship problem with others, that is, to know that something must be done to solve it, but not how to do it. To overcome this situation it is necessary to act with assertiveness, that is to say, that adults guide their behavior, analyze with them the situation, the antecedents that characterize it and the consequences.

To teach assertiveness, we must form a "team" with him: we can rehearse with the child the problematic situation, imagine how we would feel and stage different ways of coping with it. It is important to offer the child several behavioral alternatives, as this entails that the child trusts his or her decision-making capacity. It is also good to give the child concrete examples of similar cases that the adult knows and, if it can be, explain how the situation was overcome.

Strategies to teach assertiveness to children

The steps to teach our children and students assertiveness, that is, an assertive relationship style, involve knowing and practicing the following techniques and strategies:

- Development of adequate body language
Here are five basic rules that we can practice in front of the mirror:
- Maintain eye contact with the interlocutor.
- Maintain an upright position of the body.
- Speak clearly, audibly and firmly.
- Do not speak in a complaining or lamenting tone.
- To give greater emphasis to the words, use gestures and facial expressions.

- Development of techniques to avoid manipulation

To become an assertive person you have to learn to avoid manipulation. Inevitably, we will meet people who pretend to ignore our desires and who insist on developing stratagems to nullify us. The techniques described below are formulas that have proven to be effective in overcoming such stratagems and that can occur in the interpersonal relationships of adolescents in their everyday situations.

1. Broken disk technique. Repeat your point of view calmly, without letting yourself be distracted by irrelevant aspects (Yes, but ... Yes, I know, but my point of view is ... I agree, but ... Yes, but I said .. .. Fine, but I'm still not interested).

2. Assertive agreement technique. Respond to the criticism by admitting that you have made a mistake, but separating it from the fact of being a good or bad person. (Yes, I forgot the appointment we had, I usually tend to be more responsible).

3. Technique of the assertive question. It consists of inciting criticism to obtain information that you can use in your argument. (I understand that you do not like the way I acted the other day in the courtyard.) What bothered you? What bothers you about me that makes you dislike? What's in my way of speaking? what do you dislike?)

4. Technique to process the change. Move the focus of the discussion towards the analysis of what happens between your interlocutor and you, leaving aside the theme of it. (We are getting out of the question, we are going to deviate from the subject and we will end up talking about things that are past, I think you are angry).

5. Simulated claudication technique (Fog bank). It seems to give ground without really giving it up. Show yourself according to the argument of the other person but do not consent to change your position (You may be right, I could surely be more generous, even so ... Maybe I should not show myself so hard, but ...).

6. Technique to ignore. Ignore the reason why your interlocutor seems to be angry and postpone the discussion until it has calmed down (I see that you are very angry, so we will discuss this later).

7. Technique of breaking the process. It responds to the criticism that it tries to provoke with a single word or with laconic sentences (Yes ... no ... maybe).

8. Technique of assertive irony. Respond positively to hostile criticism (Wow, thanks ...).

9. Assertive postponement technique. Postpone the answer to the statement that tries to challenge you until you feel calm and able to respond to it appropriately. (I prefer to reserve my opinion about it ... I do not want to talk about that now).

Blocking strategies for assertive responses

It is also useful to prepare against certain typical strategies that will try to block and attack assertive responses. Some of the most difficult to fit are usually:

- Laugh. Respond to your claim with a joke (Only three weeks late? I have managed to be even less punctual!) Use in these cases the technique to process the change (jokes are moving away from the subject) and the broken disk (Yes ..., but).
- To blame. Blame you for the problem (You're a believer and I can not stand you) Use the technique of simulated claudication (You may be right, but you can help me change).
- Attack It consists of responding to your statement with a personal attack of the following type: "Who are you to ... if you are ...!" The best strategies in these cases are the technique of assertive irony (Thank you) along with the one of the broken disk or the one of ignoring (I see that you are in a bad mood, we will talk later).
- To delay. Your claim is received with a "Not now, I'm too tired" or "Maybe on another occasion *" Use in these cases the technique of the broken disk or insist on fixing a date to discuss the matter.
- Question. It consists of blocking each of your statements with a continuous series of questions: "Why do you tell me that? ... I still do not know why you do not want to go * Why have you changed your mind?" The best answer is to use the technique to process the change (Because that is not the problem, the point is that I do not want to go tonight).
- Use self-pity. Your claim is received with tears and with the implicit accusation that you are a bad friend. Try to continue with your script, using the technique of assertive agreement (I know it is painful, but we have to do it that way).
- Search for subtleties. The other person tries to discuss the legitimacy of your feelings or the magnitude of the problem, etc., to distract your attention. Use in these cases the technique to process the change (We are entertaining in subtleties and moving away from the main issue), along with the reaffirmation of your right to feel how you feel.
- To threat. Your interlocutor tries to threaten you with phrases like this: "If you continue with the same chant, you will have to find other friends." In these cases, use the technique of breaking the process (Maybe) and the assertive question (Why does it bother you? my request?) You can also use the technique to process the change (That sounds like a threat) or ignore.
- Deny. It consists in making you believe that you are wrong: "I did not do that" or "You really misunderstood me" Reaffirm what you have observed and experienced and use the technique of simulated claudication (It may seem that I am wrong, but I have observed that *)

Ana Barrantes. Author of the blog Neuropsychology and Learning

To know more:
Neuropsychology and Learning Blog: I do not understand, you do not understand me

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Video: Demonstrating Assertiveness

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