5 tips on teaching kids to stand up for themselves, according to a child psychologist

There’s nothing worse as a parent than watching another child be mean to your baby. It’s also hard to know when to step in, and when to let your child defend themselves. When my son was 2, he was very into sticks. There were some older kids on the playground playing tag, and my 2-year-old walked over to them to show him his stick. “Stick! Stick!” he said, beaming and proud. The older kids responded, “Who cares? Shut up!” My sweet baby didn’t seem that phased, but I started to cry for him, fighting every urge I had to walk up to those kids and let them have it. Clearly, this affected me deeply and bothered me way more than him, as he’s 6 now and I still get choked up talking about it.

From that day on, I vowed to teach my baby how to stand up for himself. And now I have another tool for my toolbox to use in order to teach him. According to child psychologist Jaimie Bloch, there are five phrases you should teach your child to stand up for themselves without becoming a bully in return. It’s all about asserting confidence and leadership.

“Children who struggle with confidence or have a passive style in social interactions can be at risk of being bullied,” Bloch shared in the caption.

Teaching kids to stand up for themselves: 5 phrases to try

The founder of MindMovers Psychology shared a reel on Instagram of the top five phrases to teach your child so they can stand up for themselves, whether that’s on the playground, at school, and anywhere your child may be socializing.

  1. It’s my turn, I’ll give it to you when I’m finished.
  2. I don’t like being called that. I want you to call me by my name.
  3. You are in charge of your body, and I am in charge of mine.
  4. I am going to find someone else to play with.
  5. I am going to get (adult’s name) to help us.

It was important for Bloch to share these tips, because her daughter wasn’t socially confident at first. 

“I want my daughter to be assertive and to be able to stand her ground with kindness and confidence. I cannot expect her to know how to do this, so I have to support her in developing these skills.” 

Bloch added that assertiveness goes beyond the problem of social interactions, by teaching them how to express their ideas and needs better in all social situations. 

“The first part is recognizing your child needs to learn to stand up for themselves and work on their confidence,” she said. “Remember, being assertive and helping kids find their voices takes practice and patience from parents. Do not push your children if they are not feeling comfortable or ready.”

Bloch said it took an entire year for her daughter to find her voice. “If your child isn’t ready, let them know that you believe in their capability to speak up and assert themselves. In the meantime, they can practice this skill with you at home! This means letting your child express their boundaries and having them heard and respected.”

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