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HOW TO DEMONSTRATE ASSERTIVENESS USING THE “YOU CAN EITHER…” STRATEGY

By: Tammy Sassoon

Using the “You can either...” strategy will help your child
make good choices independently.
With it, you’re telling the child that he can either listen and experience a certain outcome, or not listen and experience
a different outcome. Say this only ONCE when you talk to your child. Let him or her choose the behavior, and then you proceed to calmly carry through on the consequence of that behavior.

Use the following format:

“You can either do x, and then have y, or if you choose not to do x, you can have ya different day.”When you use this wording, you are allowing your child to make his own choices and be accountable for the outcome. This strategy requires you to be assertive, an occasional necessity in parenting!

Below are four simple steps you can follow to help you gain immediate results from
this technique:

How to Help Your Child Be Accountable For Decisions

1.Tell your child what the specific expectation is. (The expectation must be reasonable, of course)

2. If you think the child might not comply, tell the child what will happen if he chooses to listen, and what will happen if he chooses not to listen.

3. Let the child make the decision.

4.Follow through with the consequences you described in Step 2.

An Example of How to Help Your Child Be Accountable

1.“Josh, I need you to be home by seven o’clock”. (“I need you to be on time” would not be specific enough.)

2. If you have a good reason to believe that Josh won’t be home by 7:00, say, “If you are home by 7:00, you can go out again tomorrow night. If you are not home by 7:00, I’m denying you that privilege.”

3. Wait for your child to make a decision.

4. If your child comes home by 7:00, let him go out again the next night. If not, he cannot go out the next night, as you warned him would be the case.

Within a Few Days, You Will See Astronomical Results

After a few days of being assertive in this regard, your child will note your consistency and learn that you mean business. Initially, he or she will “test the waters,” but then you will see significant results.

How to Use This Strategy
When a Child Repeatedly Asks for Something

1.“Mikey, I will take you to the park in 10 minutes. I need you to stop asking me when I will take you to the park.”

2. If you have a good reason to believe that Mikey will keep asking, say, “You can either stop asking and I will take you to the park in 10 minutes or, if you ask again, I will not take you to the park and we’ll have to go a different day.”

3. Wait for your child to make the decision.

4.If your child stops asking, take him to the park in 10 minutes. If not, postpone the outing for another day.

It’s All About Being Assertive

I love this technique because it avoids power struggles. It demonstrates a parent’s authority, AND it allows the child to make fair choices on his own. Plus, as long as the child listens, you will not withhold anything from him. He is choosing his own fate.

Be Creative and Fair
with the Outcomes

●“You can either use a softer voice, and we will stay in the library, or if you choose to use a loud voice, we’ll have to leave.

●“You can either wake up at 7:00am tomorrow morning and be ready for me to drive you to school at 7:20, or you can sleep late and take the bus.”

Show Kind
Consistency

Be sure to follow through on your word in a kind way, while remaining consistent with whatever outcome your child chooses. This strategy will work wonders if you do!