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Confrontation and Assertion- A Parents Guide

A large part of life is facing confrontation and assertion.  I was raised with the lesson that not everyone is going to like you and it may not be for anything you have done or said, it may be just simply that you don’t mesh well with someone. As adolescents it brings about self-esteem questions and sometimes anger.  When is it okay to practice confrontation and when is it okay to practice assertion?  As parents we must practice what we preach and show our children how we handle confrontation and when we need to practice assertion.

What are the proper steps and when does confrontation mean assertion? Here’s what you need to ask yourself… Do you frequently find yourself saying yes when you want to say no?  How do you say no when you need to?

The definition of confrontation is tending to deal with situations in an aggressive way, an unfriendly, or in an argumentative way.  Does that mean it is a negative thing?  No.  Confrontation allows for honesty and expression of feelings.  There is a positive way to express vulnerability without being negative.  How is this accomplished? 

1. Never say things out of anger.  Even if you are angry think about what you are angry about.  A difference of opinion is just that.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and no one opinion is correct.

2. Be apologetic.  Own your feelings and thoughts and don't pass blame.  For example, "I feel that" or "I am sorry I upset you."

3. Compromise. Don't give a hard no for something you can do but don't want to.  Offer an alternative that works for both parties. 

The definition of assertion is being confident and forceful in stating a fact or belief.  It is an exercise of expressing authority.  Practicing assertion can be a positive and a negative thing. It is positive if you keep an open mind on what you are expressing.  It is a negative thing if you are closed minded to differences of opinions.  How can you be assertive without being rude?

1. Know your feelings are valid, but so is the other person's feelings.  Be mindful to acknowledge both sides.  
2. Don't feel obligated to do something you don't want to do.  Saying no is setting boundaries.  Boundaries are okay to have.
3. If something will cause harm to yourself or others, it's okay to decline without giving a reason.

Adults have a hard time setting boundaries because as children we were never taught to set said boundaries.  By encouraging yourself as an adult you can influence your children to know boundaries and establish them while they are still learning.  Conflict is a part of life, but knowing how to cope with it can provide clarity, focus, and drive for one's mental wellbeing. 

How do you handle conflict?  What's your best piece of advice?

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