Passive – Aggressive – Assertive

One of the best lessons that I teach at school, is the difference between Aggressive, Assertive, and Passive. This is such a good lesson for children to learn. People who adopt a particular style of relating in childhood tend to take that style into adulthood. They are often not aware of their responses and this can cause difficulties in their relationships.

Aggressive is like being a Cranky Crocodile. Cranky Crocodiles are snappy and mean. They only think of themselves. They push other people around. They fly off the handle. Other kids don’t want to play with them.

Passive is like being a timid Mouse. A timid Mouse is withdrawn. He does not stand up for himself, and lets others push him around. He then gets resentful and angry, but turns it in on himself.

Assertive children stand up for themselves in a kind way. They balance their own needs with the needs of others, and try to find a happy medium. They use their calming down strategies and their problem solving skills. They use good eye contact, they have good posture, they use a clear and calm voice, and they are polite. For Assertive, I ask children to conjure up their own image; something that they think is Cool, Calm, and Confident.

Assertive kids also use “I Messages” to let other people know how they feel and what they would like. At school, we use a stem statement to help the students remember how to do “I Messages” …

“When you __________, I feel __________, because __________. Would you please __________?”

We also teach the children that just because they use their I Messages, it doesn’t mean the other person will do as they ask. It’s just a better way of communicating.

Sometimes, kids say “yeah, but, if I was unsure about the situation, if I didn’t feel safe, I might choose to run rather than stay and be assertive”. Absolutely! Always stay safe.

In case you are wondering – yes, even young children do this very well (often better than the older children). Our kindergarten children were using it within a few weeks of learning it with the teacher reinforcing it wherever she could.


Narelle Smith


Download the poster … Assertiveness poster



Categories: Skills for Kids

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