It is recess and you are walking up on ANOTHER argument at the basketball courts. It is time for a group project in the classroom and you have a set of partners who can’t seem to get on the same page. You have two little ones at home who are struggling with agreeing on what to watch on TV.
These are everyday struggles. I have seen the first two scenarios play out more times than I can count. I have had students and parents come to me with communication issues involving multiple siblings or, even more often, between child and parent.
There is word that we use in the classroom when we teach healthy and worthwhile communication.
The word is ASSERTIVENESS.
Assertive behavior must be explicitly taught and reinforced in order to combat our natural tendencies to be aggressive or to being passive.
- Aggressive Communication: Invading personal space, raising your voice level, too stern of a tone, a scowl on your face, your arms crossed, blaming others. These are all cues to yourself and those around you that your behavior is crossing the line of being aggressive. This type of communication will put others on edge. This type of behavior will NOT get you the results you are wanting. Instead, your words will go unheard because the person you are communicating with is now on the defense.
- Passive Communication: Head down, body hunched over, quiet voice, lack of eye-contact, stating something in question form. Unfortunately, this passive behavior is not going to lead to a better outcome any more than the aggressive behavior will. No, you have no intention of hurting others. Yes, other people will take your passive communication and behavior as a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, there are far too many people who will ignore your words and take advantage of you because they mistake passiveness as a characteristic of a weak person.
- Assertive Communication: Shoulders back, head held high, a calm, yet stern tone of voice, speaking only facts, speaking without blame, eye-contact, speaking with a solution in mind. Being Assertive is the key to gaining respect and being seen as a leader among peers and adults. Communicating assertively is taking a step out of reacting with emotion and responding to a situation with the goal of finding a solution.
We are all human. There will be times when we react aggressively to situations. But, when we take the time to identify and teach assertive communication, we are equipping our children with a tool for successful interactions with others.
After teaching our children or students what assertive communication looks and sounds like, we can step into a potential conflict and prompt the child to take a step back and respond assertively.
The more we prompt and the more the student or child practices this behavior, the more natural it will become. These children are forming new pathways in their brains and with time and practice communicating assertively will become their natural response.
Are you looking for help teaching this lesson to your child? No problem! Just let them watch the video below. I explain assertive behavior – just as I would to my own students. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know when I post a new Social and Emotional post!
How do you see this lesson affecting your little one (child or student)? Leave me a comment below and let me know! I look forward to connecting with you!