Parenting Session

Are we as parents/caregivers aggressive or assertive?

As parents, we may look through a window and see our child’s school and say to ourselves, ‘If the bullying is happening there, then it’s the school’s responsibility to deal with this unruly behavior.’

On the other hand, we need to consider that maybe we as parents are contributing to the bullying actions at school, for example- gossiping, one of the easiest bullying behaviors to learn. As a parent myself, I still remember gossiping about someone to my daughter. The following day I hear my daughter repeat what I had said the day before. Where did she learn about gossiping?- from good ole dad!

Other contributing factors:

Raising our voices for control “hey get over here right now.”

Poking fun of others “look at those people.”

Being disrespectful to authority “the police never do anything around here.” This may cause your child not to speak up to the police when they witness bullying.

Discrimination of ethnic groups- “Those people ruined our country.” This may cause your child, to gossip and exclude people of ethnicity.

All these behaviors are learned- we as parents teach our children. A contributing factor could be that we are being aggressive with our authority.

To explain aggressive and assertive – let’s talk about, Parenting 101.

We need to keep it basic- Parenting: there are two categories- nurturing and admonishment. You nurture your child in mind, body, and soul. When your child becomes willful, by doing things that are not in their best interest we need to admonish and correct the situation so the child can get back to being nurtured correctly.

For example, you wake up in the morning and see your child eating candy. When it comes time to eat a healthy breakfast your child says, ‘I’m not hungry.’ As a parent you explain to your child there will be no more eating candy first thing in the morning, explaining to them that eating candy will not allow them to grow up healthy. Remember, we need to continuously be admonishing our children to get them back on the nurturing process- this is where being aggressive and assertive come into play. When correcting the problem did we correct it for the benefit of the child or was it best for us? If we get our children to do what is best for us, it becomes aggressive. When we admonish our children because it is in their best interest, it becomes assertive.


Aggressiveness is using hostility and your authority to ‘do what I say because I said so!” Getting others to do things because it best suits your situation is an aggressive position. “Hey, pick it up, I have to go home soon, and I can’t leave until you’re done.” 

Aggressiveness can be displayed in many forms:

  • Look and stand aggressively (arms crossed)
  • Tone of voice (loud, yelling)

When we are aggressive for our purposes in the style of our actions and words towards our children, it teaches them to treat others in the same mannerism. 

Aggressive communication rarely gets positive results and demoralizes your children.

What kids see and hear is what they do!


Assertiveness is a somewhat neutral understanding; it is asserting that which is factual without a willful act of misusing your power or authority. It is using your authority in a respectful way, demonstrating which needs to be done, is best for the child, and acknowledging the value and importance of the individual.

For example: “John, could you please help mom with the stacking of the boxes, we need this done in an hour because the mail carrier is coming to pick it up. I’m asking you because I trust you, and I know you are someone who can make this happen. I really appreciate this, John.” The difference is how your child is going to accomplish their task. The better motivated the child is the better results you’ll receive as a parent. In this case your son would probably end up doing a quality job. He wanted to help you because you treated him with respect. When we assert ourselves appropriately when delegating a task or asking our children to do something in a caring and respectful way, we receive better results and teach them how to get things done without being aggressive.


The challenge I have for you parents is- every time you correct your child/children or ask for something to be done, step back and ask yourself- Did I get my child to do something that was best for me or Did I ask them to do a certain chore because it was best for them or the family?

We cannot change our behavior until we notice that our behavior needs fixing. With this challenge you may be incredibly surprised at how many times you may be aggressive and how often you are assertive.

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