Help your athlete learn to calmly stand up for himself

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/9/2016

When bullying visits your child’s team, or when teammates become overly aggressive in their behavior towards your child, it’s time to teach your child how to calmly stand up for himself.

Remaining calm in the face of aggressive behavior does not mean your child has to be unassertive or a doormat. Parenting expert and author, Dr. Michele Borba, explains that kids can be calm and assertive in the face of aggressive behavior.

Dr. Borda has created simple reminders on how to effectively remain calm and assertive during these situations. Her method includes four steps: staying cool, asserting yourself, looking the person in the eye and meaning it.

C – Stay cool.

Assertive doesn’t mean out of control. Instead, it means controlling your anger and aggression. Tell your child that if he gets upset and/or emotion in the face of aggressive behavior, he will come across as lacking confidence. Staying cool under pressure always takes more strength.

A – Assert yourself.


Teach your child to speak up for himself. He should not be afraid to answer back with short answers like:

  • “Cut it out.”
  • “Stop it.”
  • “That’s not right.”
  • “You’re hurting her feelings.”
  • “Because I don’t want to!”
  • “Cool it!”

There are no need for insults, which can often inflame the situation. Instead, teach your child to use strong and short statements. One word can often do it. End it with an exclamation point and walk off.

L – Look the person in the eye.

Kids have to look confident before they can be taken seriously. The best way to appear more confident is eye contact. By looking the person in the eye, you will appear more confident. You can even teach toddlers eye contact by following one simple rule and always look at the color of the talker’s eyes. If you child is shy, suggest he look between the person’s eyes at the bridge of their nose.

M – Mean it.

Teach your child the difference between a wimpy and a strong voice. Then encourage your child to assert himself using a strong and firm – not yelling – to get his point across.

As you are teaching your child to calmly assert himself, it is worthwhile to use these steps to assist your child to better face aggressive situations.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.