Skip to main content

Assertiveness for Kids and Teens

By October 31, 2017Blogs

What is Assertiveness?
Assertiveness is a healthy style of communication. Assertiveness allows us to be able to speak up for ourselves in an honest and respectful way. Every day we are faced with situations where assertiveness can come in handy (e.g. asking a teacher a question, asking someone on a date, a college or job interview). Assertiveness does not come natural to many of us. Some people communicate in a way that is too passive and others communicate in a way that is too aggressive.   Assertive communication is the happy medium, however it can be challenging.
What Does it Mean to be Assertive?

  • You can ask for what you need or want.
  • You can offer an opinion.
  • You can give ideas or suggestions.
  • You can respectfully disagree.
  • You can say “no” without feeling guilty.
  • You can speak up for someone else.

How to be More Assertive?

  • First consider your communication style: assertive, passive, or aggressive.
  • Decide whether you need to work on being less passive, less aggressive, or that you just need to build on your naturally assertive style.
  • To work on being less passive and more assertive:
    • Pay attention to what you feel and think as well as what you want and need. Notice if you say things like: “I don’t know”, “I don’t care”, or “it doesn’t matter” when someone asks you what you want. Practice, instead, saying what you’d like or prefer.
    • Practice asking for things.
    • Give your opinion.
    • Practice using “I” statements such as “I like…”, “I feel…”, and “I prefer…”.
    • Find a role model who excels at being assertive (not too passive and not too aggressive).
    • Remind yourself that your opinions and ideas are as important as anyone else’s.
  • To work on being less aggressive and more assertive:
    • Practice letting others speak first.
    • Notice if you interrupt, if you catch yourself, apologize and say “Please, go ahead…”
    • Ask someone else’s opinion and listen to his or her answer.
    • When you disagree, try to say so without putting down the other person.
    • Find a role model who is good at being assertive.
  • Even naturally assertive people can work on assertiveness:
    • Find role models who are good at assertiveness. See if you can imitate their best qualities. (Even people who are already assertive are continuing to grow and learn.)
    • Notice when you’re being assertive – people behave differently depending on the situation. Many people find it easy to be assertive in certain situations (such as with friends), however they may find it more challenging in other situations (such as when meeting new people or with teachers or other authority figures). In the challenging situations imagine what you might say to a close friend and speak as if you are talking to your friend.

When you speak assertively it shows that you believe in yourself. Building assertiveness is a great step to becoming your best self!