Counselor’s Corner: Bullying Prevention – Assertive vs. Aggressive

As parents, we try to instill in our children a strong sense of self and positive ego in order to handle life’s challenges.  Responding to peers who are unkind to us can be tricky to maneuver. Even in the classroom, at a young age, we teach students about the differences between assertive and aggressive responses. Here are a few scenarios to get you thinking about this topic so you can have these important dialogues with your children as they learn to manage social situations with their peers.

Scenario #1:

Put Down: “You’re too fat to play with us!”

Passive Response (Unspoken but thought): No one ever wants to be with me.

Assertive Response (Spoken): “I’ve been working on my free throws. I think I could make some points for your team!”

Aggressive Response (Spoken): “Look who’s talking. You run like a pig.”

Scenario #2

Put Down: “Nice acne honey… goes well with your fat thighs.”

Passive Response (Unspoken):  I hate my body.

Assertive Response: (Spoken):  “That’s out of line. I treat you with respect and I expect the same from you.”

Aggressive Response: (Spoken): “Time for you to get into the gym; my little sister could beat you up.”

Scenario #3

Put Down: “So, how are you going to be teacher’s pet today?”

Passive Response (Unspoken):  I’m going to keep quiet in class. I won’t raise my hand or speak all day.

Assertive Response (Spoken):  “I’m proud of my grades.”

Aggressive Response (Spoken):  “I’m just glad I’m not stupid, like you.”

Keep an eye out for more posts on our blog and social media throughout the month in recognition of October’s National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions at (714) 999-5055, Ext. 1456.

Jill Thomas, MFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fairmont Private Schools Counselor

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