By: Kyle Lasalita
A pushover is a kind of person who is easily influenced and someone who is seen to be feeble. While most kids fit these criteria in their younger years, you don’t want them to be growing up this way. A child who is a pushover can be easily bullied in school and may experience troubles later on their adult life.
You want to teach your kids to be assertive with what they want. The problem is most of us think that being assertive means being rude or aggressive. Asserting one’s self is advocating for your wants and needs while being aggressive is forcing those needs on other people. A person can assert themselves while still being polite.
Some kids are born assertive, and they inherently know what they want. But, for those kids who have trouble speaking up for themselves, there are ways that you can nurture their behavior so that they don’t grow up to be a pushover.
Start With Yourself
Actions do speak louder than words, and the things that we do in front of our kids speaks volumes. It’s difficult to assess one’s behavior because who really wants to do that? But, if you’re going to teach your kids how not to be a pushover, you begin by showing them how to do it.
Do you agree with a friend even when your child knows you disagree with what they’re saying? Do you always agree to do things you don’t want to do? These kinds of behavior confuse your child, while you teach them about being assertive, your behavior says otherwise.
Show your kids how to disagree with friends and even family politely. Instead of saying YES to everything, find a way to assert your disagreement respectfully.
Be Mindful When You Discipline
Experts suggest that parents start disciplining their kids starting at the age of one. Parents are advised to start setting some rules and boundaries because if you don’t, kids will know that the best way to get what they want is by whining and crying incessantly. But experts also advise parents to avoid going overboard and dictate what their kids can and can’t do as this will make kids think that speaking their mind will only get them into trouble.
You should also be consistent with your rules. For instance, if you tell your child that they can’t have more than 2 hours of screen time on a school day, don’t let them have more than 2 hours just because you need them to behave. Be firm with your rules as this helps with showing them how to be assertive.
Prevent Peer Pressure
One negative aspect of a child growing up to be a pushover is following and modeling their friends’ behavior because they want to fit in. Early on in their younger years, let them know that trying to fit in isn’t always the best option. Let them know that deciding on their own is perfectly fine and that they shouldn’t let other people’s choices sway their own, especially not their peers. It may take a lot of reminding before they understand this concept, but consistently suggesting to them that they have a choice can cement this behavior.
However, there will be kids who just can’t stand their ground and make their own decisions. In cases like these, experts suggest that you explain to your child that a friend may get disappointed when you don’t agree with them, but that doesn’t mean that they no longer like you; and if someone stops being your friend just because you asserted yourself, then maybe that friend is not worth having.
Let Them Decide Once In A While
Let your child know that they’re being listened to and that you value their opinion. Parents who frequently decide for their kids, even for the smallest thing will teach kids to be dependent on other people’s choices. This is not to say that you want them to become insensitive. Let them have their way sometimes as this creates an opportunity for them to assert themselves and stand by their decision. If you think that they made the wrong choice, don’t easily dismiss them. Validate and acknowledge their feelings so they can continue being comfortable speaking up.
The key to anything succeeding is by constantly practicing and applying these behaviors. Role play with your kids during playtime. If you see an earlier situation where they failed to assert themselves, role play that similar situation and let them know how they could’ve handled the situation better and what to say next time.
Always remember to teach your kids to be assertive in a non-confrontational matter. Teach them the importance of acknowledging other peoples feelings without compromising their own principle. Ultimately, we all want to raise kids that are brave enough to pause and think about what they really want instead of just following what other people say.
My name is Kyle and I’m a father, a writer, and a struggling entrepreneur. I believe that dads are just as awesome as mothers, only cooler. When you don’t see me changing my son’s diapers, you can see me on my blog – Daddy Set Go.