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Modeling Assertiveness With Students

assertiveboy63Assertive communication is a hard skill to learn. Our culture tends to reward aggression. Putdowns are framed as humor in cartoons and sitcoms, and the internet can be a platform for bullying. It’s hard to find examples of assertiveness in the public sphere.

What does assertive communication look like and sound like in real life? How can we resist the pull of aggressive or passive choices, which may be easier in the moment but don’t solve our problems in the long run? How can we get our needs met without hurting others?

In the classroom, students who lack assertiveness skills may hesitate to share their thinking openly or ask clarifying questions when they’re confused, or allow a classmate’s bullying to go unchallenged. And teachers who lack these skills may struggle to set clear behavior expectations in the classroom or hesitate to seek support from coaches and principals.

Teachers can boost their students’ assertiveness skills—and their own—by teaching some simple communication techniques that can be used in and out of the classroom. Explicitly teaching these techniques can make all of us more comfortable using them in real life.

In this Edutopia article, Kristin Stuart Valdes reviews simple role-playing exercises can show students how to stand up for themselves without being unkind to others, which include how to assertively say “no,” how to set boundaries, and how to respond to aggression.

After introducing and discussing these assertiveness techniques, engage your students in role-plays to give them a chance to practice using them. You may want to present various conflicts or problems, brainstorm about which assertiveness techniques would be the most useful, and then allow students to role-play and evaluate the effectiveness of their choice.

© Edutopia.org; George Lucas Educational Foundation

Have questions? CHC can help. To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Manager at 650.688.3625 or caremanager@chconline.org

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