I had a somewhat unconventional job during my college years. While most worked as clerks, waitresses or bartenders to earn cash, I worked in a mental ward. Okay, no comments from the peanut gallery. Needless to say, I saw some very interesting things. I also saw people who had hit rock bottom and needed to find new skills to help navigate the ups and downs of life.
As a psychiatric technician, it was my job to plan weekend activities to do with the patients. I swear to God, if I have to watch the movie Cocoon one more time, I'll scratch my eyes out. But I digress... Another part of my responsibilities was to assist the Occupational Therapist who worked in the unit. Fortunately for me, she ran assertiveness training groups. I was only eighteen at the time and did not fully appreciate the content of these groups, but I sure do now!
So, why am I bringing this up on a parenting blog? Because, our children learn more from watching us than anything else. Especially when it comes to how to treat people and how we allow people to treat us. This is where the topic of assertiveness comes into play. If we can model and educate our children on how to be assertive now, what a fantastic gift we are giving them!
So what exactly is assertiveness you may be asking? Well, let me tell you. If you looked it up in the dictionary, you would find a definition similar to "aggressive self-assurance" or "given to making bold assertions." I don't think either of those really summarizes what I am talking about when I think of assertiveness. I do, however, like the definition I found on TheFreeDictionary.com: "confident and direct when interacting with others." The key there being the word "confident."
You can think of assertiveness as a continuum. I will now make a feeble attempt to illustrate this continuum in the following graphic:
Passive Assertive Aggressive
As you can see, we have passive at one end of the continuum and aggressive at the other. Assertive is smack dab in the middle. Interestingly enough, you could also compare this continuum against that of the different parenting styles with permissive on the same end as passive and authoritarian at the opposite end and authoritative in the middle. Just an observation.
Anyhoo, this is just a quick overview. I'll give you the skinny on the various aspects of this continuum in future posts. In the meantime, you can try taking this quiz.