How to Help Children Stand Up for Themselves: 7 Steps
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With practice, you can teach your kids how to stand strong in the face of pressure.

Chances are high that at some point your kid will run into someone who gives her a hard time. While your first instinct might be to lift the bully by the scruff of the neck and have some fierce words for her, this isn’t going to solve the problem. You’ll do your kids a favor if you teach them how to stand up for themselves. Armed with solid assertiveness skills, your kids will have what it takes to stay strong.


  1. 1
    Teach your kids to hold steady eye contact with people as they’re talking. While a preschooler may have a ways to go in learning how to hold eye contact, this is the perfect time to start developing this skill. Tell your little one that when he looks people in the eye, he seems strong and confident.
  2. 2
    Remind your kids that it’s important to stand straight and tall to look strong. Holding up the head with straight posture makes a person look confident. Other kids will be less likely to try to push her around.
  3. 3
    Develop strong voices in your kids that say, “I mean what I say.” Wimpy and wishy-washy voices just beg for attention from bullies. Instead, firm tones sound strong and intimidating. Practice strong voices with your kids and give lots of praise when they sound firm.
  4. 4
    Give your kids some go-to phrases they can use to stand up for themselves. Make these simple phrases that they can remember, even if stressed out. Possible options include, “No, I won’t” or “Stop doing that” or “Quit it right now.”
  5. 5
    Role play various situations to practice assertiveness. Pretend that you’re a classmate who wants to push your kid around. You might say, “You can’t play with the blocks right now because I’m playing with them. Go away and I’ll tell you when you can come back.” Brainstorm what your preschooler should say in this situation. If she can't come up with anything, suggest something like, “Stop doing that. I am playing with the blocks right now.” Keep practicing until your kid seems comfortable and shows you effective comebacks that will give a bully pause for thought.
  6. 6
    Tell your kids to involve an adult if they need help. Finding an adult can help diffuse an unpleasant situation. There’s nothing wrong with talking about a bully situation with teachers, so encourage your kids to seek help if they need it. If your kids tell you about a bully situation, talk to your kids’ preschool teacher so everyone knows what’s going on.
  7. 7
    Talk confidently, stand tall, maintain eye contact and show cool grace under pressure to give your kids an effective example of assertiveness in how you deal with people. By doing this, you’re giving your kids the best gift -- modeling an example of how to stand firm and strong.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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