Assertive vs. Aggressive

13 May

Assertive vs. Aggressive

I was watching A Place of Our Own on Public Television today. They were talking about teasing, and parenting consultant Ann Corwin gave some really good advice that is consistent with the Present Moment Parenting.

Here are their bullets points for helping a picked-on child:

  • Listen with empathy
  • Use books, puppets, & role-play to get information and talk about situations
  • Teach assertiveness, not aggression

It’s easy to get confused between assertive and aggressive, and people use the terms interchangeably. Aggressive means using conflict to solve problems. Some kids always revert to conflict. Assertive means being intentional, decisive, and setting boundaries. When we’re teaching kids to handle teasing and conflict from other kids, we want them to be assertive. We teach younger kids to do this by explaining it to them and helping to walk them through it in situations. For instance, when a younger child is being teased, we can gently take them by the shoulders and redirect them to another activity. Older kids can be coached to just walk away. The child who is doing the teasing quickly learns that there’s no energy here. They’re not getting anything from that one, and they leave it alone. What about the child who was teasing? In the moment, we don’t want to reinforce the behavior by giving energy or attention to it. After the incident, we can spend time helping them learn social skills, friendship skills, or helping them deal with the reasons behind their bullying behavior.


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