Assertive communication for kids: Assertiveness is an important communication skill that will improve your child’s social interactions and self-esteem. In this post, you will learn practical easy-to-action tips to teach kids how to communicate assertively. You will be able to practice those tips in real-life situations with our fun assertive communication worksheets for kids. And, you’ll keep all that useful information at hand with our free assertive communication checklist (at the end of the post).
Is your student struggling to join and participate in games and social activities at school?
Does your child snap at you when she feels criticized?
Is your child failing to communicate what he needs or feels?
Teaching your child or student how to be assertive may help them improve their social interactions and boost their confidence.
Table of Contents
- Communication Styles: Assertive vs. Passive vs. Aggressive
- What is assertiveness?
- Benefits of Assertive Communication
- Assertiveness for Kids: 10 Practical Tips to Teach Kids How to Be Assertive
- Assertiveness Examples for Kids
- Fun Ways to Teach Assertiveness: Assertiveness Worksheets for Kids
Communication Styles: Assertive vs. Passive vs. Aggressive
There are three basic communication styles: aggressive, passive and assertive (well, there are a few more, but since we are going to deal with kids’ communication styles, I have just kept it simple and listed the most basic ones).
- Aggressive communicators try to dominate and control others, failing to listen to them.
- Passive communicators fail to express their feelings and needs and tend to avoid conflict.
- Assertive communicators behave confidently and express what they want or believe while respecting other peoples’ views.
What is assertiveness?
“Assertiveness involves personal rights and expressing thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly, honestly and appropriately, without violating the rights of others”. Lange and Jacubowski (1976)
“Assertive behavior is an interpersonal behavior involving relatively honest and direct expression of thoughts and feelings that are socially appropriate and take into account the feelings and welfare of other people” Rimm and Masters (1979)
If we try to dissect those definitions a bit, we’ll see that assertiveness is about:
- being confident about expressing our views, feelings, and needs
- standing up for ourselves
- showing respect for other people’s views and feelings
Benefits of Assertive Communication
- We are able to express how we really feel.
- We are not afraid of defending our opinions.
- It is empowering.
- It boosts our self-esteem and confidence.
- It is likely to gain the respect of people around us because they see that we defend our rights but we respect others.
- It balances both our needs and desires with other people’s needs. In case of conflict, that will make it easier to find a win-win solution when we are facing conflict.
- It removes guilt when saying no to people’s requests.
- Bullying protection.
Assertiveness for Kids: 10 Practical Tips to Teach to Be Assertive
Assertiveness is the healthiest communication style.
Children who lack assertiveness may:
- fail to communicate their needs
- not stand up for themselves
- feel ignored
- feel obliged to do things they don’t feel like doing
- use aggressiveness or bullying tactics to get what they need
- be bullied themselves
Assertive communication is not just about what we say. Non-verbal communication is just as important as the overt message we deliver.
These are some tips that will help your child communicate assertively.
- Make eye contact
When you talk to somebody, look at people´s eyes. Lack of eye contact conveys insecurity or fear.
- Speak with a confident voice tone
Voice tone should not be so low that nobody can hear you. And it shouldn’t be so loud that it feels like you are shouting or being aggressive.
- Stand right but not too stiff.
Body posture is also conveying a message about yourself. If you look stiff, it conveys tension. But if you stoop over, you will look insecure.
- Neutral facial expressions.
The facial expression should be neutral or positive but also consistent with the content of the message you are delivering.
Telling somebody that you don’t like something while you are smiling could send a very confusing message.
- Keep calm while you speak
- Be polite but firm
- Listen to the other person so that you also understand their views.
- Use “I” statements to express yourself
I dislike…In order to express our feelings and inform others about our needs, we can follow this simple four-step formula:
I feel …. when …. because ….(my needs are) …..
“I” ⇒ you are taking responsibility for what you are feeling or thinking.
“When” ⇒ you state the other person’s specific action that has triggered your emotions.
“Because” ⇒ you explain how it affects you
“Your needs” ⇒ you let them know what you need them to do instead.I statement example:
I feel annoyed when you keep on checking if I’ve done my homework because it tells me you don’t trust me. I need to be able to prove to you that I can do it on my own.
You can practice this tip with our I-statements worksheets.
More on I statements here.
- Describe the other person’s behavior with facts, not negative labels (when there is a behavior you don’t like)
- Remember you have the right to say no, and you don´t have to feel guilty about it.Just an example to share with your child (to make it clear that I’m not talking about saying no to bedtime, house chores or any other duty that our child is responsible for)
You have just opened your LOL Surprise and you have one of the dolls you are missing in your collection. Your best friend gets really excited because it’s one of her favorites. She asks you to exchange it for another one, but you also really like it.
Well, you don’t need to give it away. You have the right to keep it, and you can gift it to her if you happen to come across the same one in the future.
- Help your child role-play social situations that may be difficult
We explore ALL these assertive communication practical tips in the Assertive Communication Workbook for Kids. Make sure you check it out!
Assertiveness Examples for Children
These are a couple of examples of assertive vs aggressive vs passive communication in a social situation (sharing):
- Give me that book (while taking it from somebody’s hands)
- I wish I could read that interesting book
- Could I borrow that book when you finish reading it?
- Give me that ball!
- I wish I could play with those kids
- That game looks fun. May I join you?
Fun Ways to Teach Assertiveness: Assertive Communication Worksheets for Kids
Would you like your child to practice assertiveness in a range of social situations?
Looking for fun ways to teach assertiveness?
These fun assertive communication worksheets may help you with this. They include the following information and activities:
- Communication styles: aggressive vs. passive vs. assertive
- 10 Tips on how to communicate assertively
- Games, worksheets and/or activities to practice each assertiveness tip
- 10 Worksheets with real-life examples (10 worksheets & 10 solution sheets)
- Helping others
- Feeling excluded
- Dissatisfaction with schoolwork result
- Disliking food
- Asking for what you want
- Feeling frustrated or angry
- Asking for a favor
- Feeling Embarrassed
Would you like to download a free checklist with tips for kids on how to be assertive?