Assertive Language for Visually Impaired Preschoolers

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Over and over, well-intentioned folks will assume your child needs help and will provide assistance without asking. Your child will need to know how to say, "No, thank you," firmly and respectfully.

Other times, your child will want or need help with unfamiliar tasks or environments. She will need to know how to request assistance respectfully.

In addition to accepting and refusing assistance, your child will benefit from training in discussing her desires, interests, choices, feelings, and accommodation needs.

Your child has countless opportunities to speak up for herself:

  • Revealing preferences
  • Clearing up misunderstandings
  • Asking for help
  • Declining offered help
  • Communicating ideas

Not to mention when she declares she will not be eating what you thoughtfully prepared! These are the perfect opportunities to teach her how to communicate kindly and confidently.

You are likely familiar with communication terms like passive, aggressive, and assertive. Passivity and aggression lie on opposite extremes of the respectful-communication spectrum.

Passive communication does not demonstrate respect for oneself; one who is passive will remain silent rather than disagree, say no, or refuse assistance.

Aggressive communication does not demonstrate respect for others; one who is aggressive makes demands without considering the needs or feelings of all involved.

Balanced perfectly in the center of the respectful-communication spectrum, assertive communication demonstrates respect for oneself and others.

In assertive communication, a speaker states facts or feelings in a way that promotes honesty. Assertive communication allows for negotiation with a goal of both parties feeling satisfied when possible.

Examples of Coaching Assertive Communication to Preschoolers

  • Samantha drops a toy and yells out of frustration when she cannot find it. Coaching: "Samantha, instead of yelling, you can say, 'Mommy, I am frustrated. I dropped my toy. Can you please help me find it?'"
  • Juan’s brother asks if Juan will complete his chores for him. Juan, avoiding conflict, says yes. Coaching: "Juan, you are responsible for your chores, and your brother is responsible for his. You can politely tell him, 'I love you, but I am not going to do your chores for you.'"
  • Another child takes Nida’s book from her hands. Coaching: "Nida, when someone takes something from you, you can say, 'Please don’t take my book. I was reading it. When I am finished looking at it, I will share with you.'"
  • A friend's insensitive comment hurt Dre’s feelings. Coaching: "Dre, I know it’s easy to remain quiet when feelings are hurt. However, Jasmine is your friend, and you don’t want to begin feeling angry or bitter at her by keeping your feelings silent. You can be honest with her and let her know her comment hurt your feelings."
  • You ask your three children to agree upon a weekend family activity. Patrick, the youngest, demands the family go to the playground. He says he will not come if another activity is chosen. Coaching: "Patrick, all three of you and your desires are important. I’m glad you know what you really want to do this weekend. Now find out what your sisters want. Ask them and you three can negotiate. Maybe we can go to all three locations this month, or maybe you can reach a different compromise."

The American Foundation for the Blind’s CareerConnect has a lesson series on assertive communication. The series consists of discussions and exercises that equip your child to acknowledge and discuss her interests, desires, and concerns; advocate for what is important to her; manage conflicts; establish boundaries and decline requests.

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JVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & Blindness

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