Learn to say NO:

Incentives to have your own criteria, and the importance of saying NO. It is fundamental that children know how to say no and do not let themselves be influenced by external opinions. It is crucial that they are able to defend their own ideas and reflections, and not do anything they do not want or disagree with. There are different ways of saying no: not saying no, saying no in an aggressive way and attacking others or saying it assertively without harming anyone.

Assertiveness It is the ability to express our desires, to defend our ideas in an open, direct, frank and friendly way without attacking others, without harming anyone. This ability allows expressing feelings and emotions properly, but also, it is a bilateral process because it consists of making compliments and accepting them, but also in complaining and accepting the complaints of the rest. It is a skill that can be practiced to get to handle it correctly. But it also requires that we be flexible, and respect the rights and choices of others. Now, imagine an equilateral triangle. In each one of the tips we will place the assertiveness, the passivity and the aggressiveness respectively. If we take the vertex of passivity, the result is to avoid or not ask for what we want or like. If, on the other hand, we are at the apex of aggressiveness, we will say no, but we will do it in a violent way, leaving us in ridicule and disqualifying ourselves.

The teaching of assertiveness should be one of the basic pillars of the education of children, because in this way we teach them to relate in a healthy and adequate way with others, they will be safer, with better self-esteem, it will favor the full development of their personality and they will become socially competent adults.

How do I know if my child is assertive?

It can be observed when they begin to interact with other children. For example, when they are in the park and someone takes away a toy, or when they play with their peers, even though they do not like that game, or when they accept another child’s orders to avoid falling badly. or being insulted or hit. In this case it would be children who are somewhat inhibited, who tend to be bottled up in their emotions and feel sad. On the other hand, if the child tends to treat his peers incorrectly, to get what he wants at the expense of others, in some cases to use physical force, then we would speak of an aggressive style. Therefore, it is essential to learn these skills and to control those aspects that modulate the behavior of our children in a negative way.

Basic rules to promote assertiveness in our children:

The basic element for them to be assertive is to show their feelings in a friendly and appropriate manner. So, we will have to motivate them and make them feel safe to dare to speak. At this point, nerves and insecurities can arise that require constant practice of assertiveness and other techniques for resolving conflicts. It is important that we show that we care about what happens to them and that we are affectionate in their dealings with them. Another important element is the language and non-verbal communication (gestures, looks …). If you manage to guide the child’s emotions through words, you can normalize the different situations and support your position with respect to other classmates. It is also opportune that they learn that with the look they can express a lot, just as it happens with gestures. To work assertiveness, parents have to practice at home (either between spouses and children), listening with “the five senses” what they want to convey (especially because they do not usually go spontaneously to tell us what they are concerned about, either because of the harshness of the situation, because they are not used to telling their problems or simply because they are afraid).

An important guideline is to pay close attention to what we project in our children. That is, if the father or mother of a child has suffered some kind of mockery in school, will tend to protect the child, advising him to distrust others and anticipate the actions of others, or questioning when he returns from A friend’s house to know if he has behaved well and if he has made a good impression. It is a difficult task, but we should avoid projecting our fears, frustrations or anxieties on them. With this we do not mean that you do not want the best for him / her, but we invite you to check if any of these fears is “irrational” to prevent your child from going through that experience. Tell our son / daughter that there are rights that he / she must respect, but that his / her own must also be respected. This topic can be addressed directly or through anecdotes or news; for example, “your brother has the right to speak”, “what they have done to your friend is unfair, they have the right to express themselves as well”. Reinforce or ignore behaviors that approach or move away from assertiveness. For example, praise or reward him when he behaves assertively or peacefully (“very well, you have defended a child smaller than you, not everyone dares to do it”, “you have done well telling Pedrito to leave you in peace without hitting him “), and ignore him and do other things when he starts screaming, or punish him when he behaves aggressively. If our child has problems at school with other children then we have to sit down with them and “work as a team”. That is to say, to listen to him, to value his problem without anguish and without transmitting that anguish to the child. Then, guide him to face the problem and review his rights in a language appropriate to the age.

Then, set some goals with him / her (eg “I want my things not to be taken away from me” or “I do not want to be stuck in class anymore”) and practice assertive behaviors at home (the father or mother can do “bully” “) Or tell him to imagine dangerous situations and try to cope with them / solve them using the imagination.

In addition, we have to offer you alternatives to put into practice when you need it. Thus, we encourage your decision-making capacity (between one alternative or another), and if on the other hand, the technique used fails, you can change it to another. You have to help them feel good about themselves and not expect them to solve the problem quickly, but step by step. We must be patient. To expand more information on the subject: Book: “Assertiveness. Expression of a healthy self-esteem “by Olga Castanyer. Online blog: “Short children’s stories: children who learn to say NO, increase their self-esteem”.

Alba Prieto Moreno

Psychology Area-Teacher At Home