So we've been working with this virtue since Monday. It's not an easy one for kids to grasp, but I think the boys have a basic understanding of it's meaning.
Being assertive means to be positive, to be confident and to know that you are worthy of respect. It's about asking for what you need or want, and it is about expressing your opinions, ideas and thoughts with strength and surety.
We talked about why assertiveness is important and we discussed examples of when they might need to call on this virtue. The Family Virtues Guide says it nicely, "When you are assertive, others respect you. You are offering your true ideas and feelings as well as protecting yourself from things that can cause you harm.... Just as each instrument in an orchestra is needed to make beautiful music, your part is needed in the song of life."
As children, the need to be assertive comes at a fairly superficial level, as opposed to the complexities of life as an adult. The boys and I talked in detail about how assertiveness could help them at school, and they came up with the following -
- They could be assertive if they were being bullied. Instead of fighting back, they could tell the bully that they didn't like the way they were being treated, and that it should stop.
- If their teacher asks a question, putting their hand up without feeling shy, would be an assertive way to give their answer. On this topic, we also talked about the importance of patience, and not yelling out the answer without being first asked.
- We also talked about peer pressure, and the need to be assertive if a friend tries to talk them into doing something they feel is wrong.
This is a virtue that usually gets lost somewhere in between passivity and aggression, and not too many adults do it well. It's an odd virtue to teach children, but definitely one that is important, and one that will grow with the child each day. The day after we talked about it, my youngest son came home quite disappointed. When I asked him why he was feeling sad, he told me it was because he hadn't had a chance to be assertive as no one had bullied him! It took me a while to make him understand that this was a good thing! So, this virtue will be one that we will continue to talk about in general chatter for a little while yet.
Next week: Virtue 2 - Caring