Kids with assertive communication skills will feel better about themselves and have healthier relationships, says Lisa M. Schab, author of Cool, Calm, and Confident: A Workbook to Help Kids Learn Assertiveness Skills and a Chicago-area licensed clinical social worker. Here are eight of her basic tips to help kids develop these communication skills and become confident individuals.
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A version of this article appeared in our November 2013 issue with the headline "No more Mr. Nice Guy."
Encourage discussion, disagreement and debate at the dinner table and elsewhere to emphasize everyone’s right to share their own opinions. Invite kids with different play styles over, too.
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Build some free time into your child’s day. “Overscheduled kids may become more passive,” says Montreal child psychologist Julia Daki.
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Fight (respectfully) with your partner or friends. Children need to see healthy conflict — and healthy resolutions — in order to model it themselves.
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Put your child in charge of choosing the dinner menu or another family task. (Take turns, so more assertive siblings don’t dominate.)
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Avoid name-calling. Criticize negative actions rather than your child, so they don’t develop poor self-esteem or shy away from self-expression.
Read more: How to build your child's self-esteem>
Consider theatre classes, debate team, karate or another confidence-building activity that your child has expressed interest in.Photo: iStockphoto
Give them chores to do around the house. Responsibilities help children feel capable and mature.
Read more: The ultimate guide to chores>
Gently intervene in situations where your child should be justifiably angry and say, “Stand up for yourself.” Role play how to handle it next time.Photo: iStockphoto
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