Don’t Let Your Child Become a Pushover

As parents, we do not want our children to become pushovers. Sure, we want our children to be polite. We want them to listen to credible authorities and obey legitimate requests. But a pushover? No way!

Instead of becoming a pushover, we want our children to stand for what is right. We want them to remain firm in their conviction and even refuse to conform to foolish pressures and senseless requests. I hesitate to say it, but we even want our children to respectfully disobey any authority that makes an improper demand. No, we don’t want our children to become pushovers, victims to the bullies of this world. We want them to become polite people who still stand firm in their convictions and set clear boundaries that communicate what they will and will not allow in their lives. How can we help our children develop this skill? Here are 5 tips to help.

  1. Model healthy “no’s.” Children practice what they observe in their parents (Read My Children are Copy Cats…Now What?  for more). If we want our children to have positive boundaries, we need to have positive boundaries. Let your “no” be “no” or your “yes” be “yes.” Don’t automatically say “yes” to every request. Take time to think about your schedule and the consequences of your involvement in an activity before saying “yes.” Remember, a “no” may be the right answer to open the door to an even better “yes.”
  2. Teach children to value themselves. We begin to teach children to value themselves by valuing them ourselves. When our children see adoration and love in our eyes, they see themselves as valuable. When we respect their ideas and even allow their ideas to influence us, our children learn to value themselves. As we respond to our children’s emotions with empathy and kindness, our children know we value them. When we interact with our children respectfully and in a polite manner, our children’s sense of value grows. We teach our children to value themselves by valuing them in our interactions and with our words and actions.
  3. Give children significant chores. Make sure they understand how the chore they do helps the whole household function more smoothly. Let them know they play an important role in the household. Don’t redo the chore after them. If you do, their work becomes insignificant. Instead, take the time to teach them how to do the chore right and appreciate what they do. When they do the chore, thank them. In so doing, you teach your children to value themselves (see bullet #2).
  4. Discipline with respect. Loving discipline teaches self-discipline. Self-disciplined people are less likely to be pushovers. To discipline with respect means to teach, not just punish. Loving discipline teaches right behavior. It explains the values behind the expectation and right behavior. Loving discipline does not embarrass in front of others; it teaches in private. Loving discipline is not harsh; it is firm but considerate. Loving discipline is not overly demanding; it is patient and aware of developmental abilities. Loving discipline builds strength of character and integrity that is not easily pushed around.
  5. Teach your children to stay C.A.L.M. (an acronym from Dr. Michele Borba). When confronted with a situation in which they must respond assertively, your children can use C.A.L.M. (after you teach them how). They can stay (C) CALM and make an (A) ASSERTIVE statement while (L) LOOKING the other person in the eye…and (M) MEAN what they say. Teach them how to do this through example and practice.

Following these 5 tips can teach your children to not become a pushover. Following these 5 tips can help your children become a polite, respectful person who will still stand firm in their convictions. That’s a balance our children need to learn.

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