My daughter wants to be liked, and sometimes kids take advantage of her generosity. How can I teach her to stand up for herself?

As parents, we want our children to feel that they belong. We teach them to be kind and generous, but they also need to learn how to set boundaries so that others do not take advantage of them. The difficulty lies is teaching your daughter the difference between being assertive (telling people what she wants) and being aggressive (imposing her wants and needs on others). One of the best ways to teach your child to be assertive is to model kind, confident behavior in your daily interactions with others. Show her that it is okay for her to speak up and to ask for what she wants. Give her the opportunity to make her own choices (e.g., let her choose what to wear or what she wants for a snack from two healthy choices) so she feels that she has control over her life and learns that what she thinks and feels matters. The goal is to help her feel confident and encourage a healthy self-esteem. Two great books that teach children about individuality, confidence, and self-worth are “Zero” by Kathryn Otoshi and “Only One You” by Linda Kranz. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

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