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If you want your child to move through the world with strength and confidence, you will have to teach them how to be assertive. An assertive child will be able to have strong relationships, communicate clearly, set boundaries, say “no”, and stand up for themselves. When learned in childhood, these qualities will translate to a healthy adult life. However, many parents raise children with the belief that the adult is right. They accidentally teach that the child does not necessarily have an opinion that should be listened to. Therefore, raising an assertive child will take thought and intentionality.
The first step in teaching your child assertiveness is talking about what it is and why it is important in their life. It is not likely that your child will learn about this term at school or from friends, so it will be important for you to initiate conversations around the topic. Many people teach assertiveness by teaching the difference between being passive, assertive, and aggressive. It is helpful for your child to learn these behaviors and why they should choose to be assertive. It is most natural to bring up the topic when your child experiences a situation relevant to it. For example, if they tell you about a bullying situation at school, you can discuss how they can be assertive and stand up for themselves.
One key tenet of assertiveness is setting and maintaining boundaries. That can be hard for children to understand, especially if they feel pressured by friends or adults to act a certain way. Some children are afraid of being assertive. They’re worried that by standing up for themselves, they will lose friends or be ostracized. However, by teaching them that boundaries are healthy and normal, these feelings will be minimized. Inherently tied with boundary-setting is the concept of saying “no.” Teach your child that it is okay to say no on a playdate with a schoolmate or to a bully forcing them to do something. Learning that boundaries are an important part of life will help them develop healthy relationships and strong decision-making skills.
After your child has learned boundaries, it is crucial that you respect them (when appropriate, of course). It will go against everything you teach about boundaries if you choose to break the boundaries that your child has worked to set. Be sure to respect their physical and emotional boundaries. Continue to have conversations with them about their chosen boundaries and why those are important to them.
The best way for your child to see what healthy assertiveness looks like in action is by seeing you model it in your daily life. For example, if you say “no” to something, use good language to state your opinion and be sure to stick to your decision. Use a calm, strong voice when being assertive. Take a moment to reflect with your child on how your use of assertiveness was present in a situation. Have honest conversations with your child about your journey with learning assertiveness. Tell them when it has been challenging and how the skill has helped you throughout your life.
Teaching assertiveness to your child is one small part of parenthood. Finding affordable child care services that care about important skills is another. At Wonderschool, we offer services, including in-home child care and preschool, to provide your child with high-quality care. We have multiple Denver child care centers affiliated with Wonderschool that all meet higher standards than those required for general in-home centers. Visit us at https://corp.wonderschool.com to learn more and find the right Denver child care for you and your child.