Calm & Assertive

Calm; to be quiet, still, or not excited.

Assertive; to be positive but insistent.

Calm-assertiveness; to be a trusted leader.

Some people are born to be leaders, other people have to work at it. If you are not a natural born leader and you decide to be a parent you will have to quickly figure out how to take the leadership role because your child‘s well-being will depend on it. If you do not take a leadership role that your child trusts and respects he or she will develop either defiant or anxious traits.

Parents can sometimes get a little off-track with their leadership style; sometimes because their own parents used an incorrect leadership style and sometimes because they don‘t have a naturally assertive personality. If calm-assertiveness leadership doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry because it can be learned.

Incorrect leadership includes frustrated leadership and anxious leadership. You won’t necessarily realize that you are leading with frustration but there are some clues to look for. If your child is defiant, argumentative, or aggressive you are leading with frustration. In the animal world frustration and anger are seen as a weakness because these emotions cause an individual to be volatile, unbalanced , and irrational. The reason frustrated leadership does not work is because children will perceive the frustration and anger as an unsafe and untrustworthy energy to be around. Children will not cooperate with, or compliantly follow a leader that is unstable or unpredictable.

Anxious leadership is easier to be aware of because you will feel worried and hesitant. The followers also become highly anxious because the leader doesn’t even believe that things are going to be alright. The reason that anxious leadership does not work is because it is impossible to motivate or influence others if you are feeling fearful and unsure yourself. If a child looks to an adult for guidance, encouragement, or reassurance and all they see in the adult is panic, it is not very comforting.

Because a child will resist following both frustrated and worried leaders, the key for an adult is to come across as calm and assertive. This doesn’t mean that you need to know all the answers or never worry; just don’t panic. Start by telling yourself that it’s going to be OK. Next, tell yourself that anger and fear will only make the situation more difficult to deal with. Next, take a deep breath and relax. Finally, smile and say, “Don’t worry, we’ll get this figured out.”

Let’s imagine that you are in a burning building. You will observe some people who panic and become aggressive. They will start pushing and stampeding and impulsively jump out a ten storey window- survival instincts tell us not to follow that person. You will also observe some people who panic and become passive. They will curl up in a ball and hide in the back of a storage closet hoping that avoiding the emergency will make it go away- survival instincts tell us not to follow that person either. Finally, you will observe the calm-assertive leader who will walk to the hallway and pull the fire alarm, then feel the door to see if it warm, then firmly instruct everyone to crawl on the floor and exit in an orderly manner down the fire escape- survival instincts tell us that this is the person to follow.

Even if you aren’t a natural born leader you can still be a calm-assertive parent, it just takes practice. Children need and want a trustworthy and confident leader to show them the way and reassure them that everything is going to work out. You can do it, you just have to believe in yourself and stay calm.

– D.R. Graham

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