Some teenagers have difficulty standing up for themselves. Shyness, timidity, a general lack of confidence and passivity may all contribute to a detriment in assertiveness. This can be overcome by training that teaches teens to voice their opinions and stand up for themselves tactfully but firmly and without infringing upon the rights of others.
Some teens have difficulty refusing requests or demands from others. These teens might slowly begin to build resentments as their time and energy is all taken up by others. Learning how to decline a request can difficult. But always putting others first, that is being too nice and compliant, will eventually cause a teen to feel taken advantage of.
Bullies enjoy picking those who appear to be low in confidence, weak-willed or passive. Teens can learn how to stand up to such individuals with assertiveness tactics and skills. They can practice controlling their tone of voice and develop a strong body stance to let bullies know that they are not afraid and will not back down. Maintaining steady, direct eye contact with the bully and then looking away is another method they might learn and practice in assertiveness training. Learning to deal safely with bullyism is something many teens need, and a class or group on assertiveness or more specifically bullyism could help. If you suspect your teen is being bullied, either at school or online, seek counsel with a pediatrician or mental health care provider, because the consequences can be quite serious.
The more teens learn assertiveness skills, the more their self-esteem and confidence will grow and the less they will feel they must be overly nice and accommodating to all. Assertiveness training can empower teens to be more in control of their own lives and thus feel more secure and better about themselves. A quote from the book "Stick Up for Yourself: Every Kid's Guide to Personal Power and Self-Esteem" by Kaufman, Raphael, and Espeland, sums up the rewards of learning to be assertive: "Sticking up for yourself means knowing who you are and what you stand for, and being true to yourself."
When teens are not bogged down handling other people's requests and tasks or living in paralyzing fear of a bully, they are better able to set and reach goals and have more time to work on what is important to them as individuals. Communication will improve, and teens will find themselves taking as well as giving compliments, asking questions and receiving explanations, and being able to speak to other freely about their opinions and aspirations.
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