How do your pre-teens and teenagers learn how to stand up for themselves?
Kids internalize SO much. They question themselves at this age constantly. Adults do this too. But kids naturally want to feel accepted and included, so with that, they often put other friends’ needs before their own. Many don’t want to cause waves or drama and this is why they’re quiet or don’t say anything. However, I explain to them that there’s a very big difference between asking for what you want, conveying what you don’t like versus meddling or making a big stink out of something.
I teach teens about emotional intelligence a very specific way. What this means exactly is for them to know how they feel and validate their own feelings. If they can learn to respect themselves enough to accept the way they feel (whether it’s good or bad), then they’re able to communicate those feelings in the outside world. Remember, this takes maturity, understanding, and PRACTICE.
I like to explain this to kids sort of as an internal GPS. This is a way for them to identify their own feelings as they navigate their social world. It’s giving them permission to direct their own path and to be comfortable within their social circle. Simply put - If somebody does something you don’t like, you have the right to feel uncomfortable. Don’t question it. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t accept it.
Kids need to be given permission to own their feelings, not put them aside or neglect the way they feel for the sake of someone else. When they truly can get to this place, your kids will naturally be learning how to communicate effectively and eventually feel confident enough to stand up for the things they’re not cool or comfortable with. A life skill they're learning early!