How can you get your teen to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive?


Teens need to know how to speak up and communicate. They need to know how to state what they want and ask for it without threats or force, as they expect respect for their rights while respecting the rights of others. Assertiveness in teens should be balanced with communicative behavior that makes them feel confident and in control, without intentionally hurting anyone. Teens who try to assert their demands in a verbally or physically violent way are being aggressive. Aggressive behavior is asking for what you want or expressing yourself in a way that is insulting, sarcastic, or in any way hurtful, humiliating or abusive.

Teens need to know that aggressive behavior can lead to conflict and can even result in physical abuse. They may lose the respect of their friends and peers if they express themselves at the expense of others. Assertiveness is an honest and sensitive approach to dealing with the many situations in a teen's life in which they need to express themselves and state their case. Teens should understand that when they are assertive they are more likely to get what they want, without the dangerous and unwanted implications of intimidating or hurting someone on the way. Assertiveness is a way to negotiate and solve problems.

Assertiveness is a choice, and teens need to realize the implications of aggression to make that choice. Teenagers need to realize that when they choose assertiveness they will feel better about themselves, the choices they make and the decision-making process. They need to know that assertiveness is a skill that can improve their relationships and every aspect of their life; being assertive is a way to communicate, which stresses self-control, sensitivity and respect for yourself and others.