Assertiveness: Setting Boundaries With Your Children
Assertiveness is a skill that produces many benefits. For mothers, this is undoubtedly a great tool when it comes to dealing with both tantrums and arguments with children.
Knowing how to say “no” without having a conflict is useful when it comes to establishing limits and authority.
Using the word “no” with children can certainly be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if you’re too lax, children might think they have some power over their parents and manipulate you. You need to avoid losing authority, because this won’t help anyone.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t be too assertive either. If you shout “no” as soon as your child finishes asking you something, it could make him feel the need to rebel. As a result, he may start to act out or behave badly.
How can you regulate assertiveness so it’s a constructive tool? In this article, we’ll show you some guidelines to achieve it.
What is being assertive?
Assertiveness is a very important quality for a person in many different ways. It basically consists of knowing how to respect one’s rights, thoughts and position, as well as willingness to act in a certain way.
Whether it’s social or work-related, knowing how to refuse excessive or even abusive requests will help you avoid getting into unwanted situations. It’s so important that you could even prevent stress, anxiety or frustration that you would otherwise get by doing things you don’t want and don’t have to.
The same happens when talking to your children, which can be very tricky at times. If you don’t set limits, you might transmit the wrong message of neglecting your responsibilities.
Assertiveness consists of seeking balance
However, it’s not so easy. If we all went through life saying no to everything and opposing everyone, the world would be a terrible place. Favors and compromise wouldn’t exist.
The goal is to find the right balance. Being assertive in a relationship means knowing when to give in and when to be firm. You have to identify what’s fair and what’s not. This will be very helpful to you.
Obviously, this isn’t easy. However, you can definitely achieve it. Here are some tips to keep in mind when negotiating with your children:
- Start the conversation. It’s useless to be stuck in your views without thinking about the other’s needs. You need to listen and see things from their point of view.
- Know how to explain. Just like it sounds, you need to give your argument as clearly as possible. Fighting just to fight doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand, if you back up your decision, over time, your child will understand you.
- Maintain your position. If you’re convinced and there’s no changing your mind, defend your opinion. If you give in, your child will assume that you’re vulnerable. They will use this against you when they have the opportunity. Don’t doubt yourself either. Your tone, look and gestures should back up what you say.
- Be proactive. In addition to maintaining your position, you can offer alternatives to your ideas, as long as they fit. You’ll hopefully find a good compromise that will avoid a fight.
Why might there be a lack of assertiveness?
Assertiveness and self-esteem are closely linked. People think if you’re sure of yourself, you’ll be able to communicate your thoughts and decisions without hesitating.
Otherwise, you could fall into a vicious cycle. You might not respect your position because you don’t think you deserve it. As a result, others don’t respect you, and your self-esteem decreases more.
It’s good to want to please others and be liked, but this shouldn’t come at a price. You shouldn’t try to win your child’s heart by giving in or setting weak boundaries.
“Being assertive in a relationship means knowing when to give in and when to be firm.”
Finally, it’s important to emphasize that, above all, you need to be calm and respectful. You must stay focused and be willing to establish open and honest communication with the other person.
After all, you build relationships with your children day by day. Every day brings new challenges. Assertiveness, when done right, can be your best ally.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- de Mangione, E. C. D. D., & de Anglat, H. D. (2002). Asertividad, su relación con los estilos educativos familiares. Interdisciplinaria, 19(2), 119-140. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/180/18019201.pdf
- De la Plaza, J. (2009). Inteligencia asertiva. Zig-Zag.
- Caballo, V. E. (1983). Asertividad: definiciones y dimensiones. Estudios de psicología, 4(13), 51-62. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02109395.1983.10821343