Teaching my Gentle Baby Assertiveness

Among my children, my eldest son, A, is the most gentle soul.

When I say gentle, I mean REALLY gentle.


My Gentle Baby and I

As a baby, he barely cried. Since birth, he babbled and burbled when he needed something…. even then, it felt like he didn’t want to be a burden or an imposition to the adults whose purpose was to take care of him.  He would lie in his crib quietly waiting for one of us to wake up, content to play by himself while the adults around him slept on.  In the morning, we would peek into his little crib, thinking he was still asleep, only to be greeted with his giant wide-awake eyes.  Only then would he start making noises and actions that we should pick him up when he spots us.

As a tween, he still carries the same traits he had as a baby:  Kind, gentle, affectionate and considerate to a fault.  He is very conscious of the feelings of the people around him and would bend over backwards to make someone feel better.

He’s the sort of person who would openly admit to missing his older sister when she goes away for a school retreat and tell her how much he’ll miss her without shame.

Don’t mistake my describing him as gentle to mean he’s quiet.

He isn’t quiet at all… far from it.  In fact, he breaks into song at random times… very loudly.  He’s lively and ebullient, brimming with life.  He loves to make people laugh and is a bit of a showboat.  He talks a lot and asks the funniest questions.  He’s the type of kid who would be preparing for a presentation for school, whether it’s dramatic or a simple speech, with absolutely no fear.

In fact everyone agrees that if he were a Disney character, he’d be the Genie from Aladdin.

He seems like a very easy child to raise, right?

Let me just say that A is proof positive that no matter what personality of the child, mothers never stop worrying.

A never complains.

His siblings will tell you in no uncertain terms if you’re messing up.  My daughter will tell me to my face if she feels neglected or picked on.  This allows me to discuss with her exactly what’s bothering her and we can work it out.  My youngest, even at his tender age, will loudly complain if he wakes up and I’m not beside him by expressing his discontent with the simple words: “Mama, why you did not sleep with me?”, paired with the matching frown on his tiny little face.

The two children, who are very verbal are, in a way, easier to raise because you don’t have to analyze their needs.  They will TELL YOU what they want, when they want it, how they want it and why.  As a result, they usually get what they want.  They loudly demand where to eat or where to go.  They loudly demand more attention…. or to be left alone as the case may be.

With A though… he’s always just smiling and conciliatory.  He doesn’t demand, he quietly requests.  When there’s a disagreement, he very quickly concedes to his siblings.  As a result, when tired, we revert to just giving in to the two more demanding babies (big and small).

Due to this, I worry that we are not paying enough attention to A.  I worry that he has issues with us that he’s too gentle to verbalize.   I worry that he secretly feels like a second class citizen even if it’s NOT our intention as parents.

I’m very conscious about this so I usually tell A: “You have to tell me what you want so we know. You have to insist on it if it matters to you. Otherwise, how will we know because we aren’t mind readers.”

I know it’s weird to teach a child to be more “demanding” in a way but I feel it’s important for children to have some level of assertiveness.

In reality, the world doesn’t hand you prizes on a silver platter.  Usually, you need to verbalize your ideas and your needs, without pissing anyone off, in order to get to where you want to go.    I want to be assured that he won’t have a problem saying “No!” and insist on it if need be.  I want him to be able to battle peer pressure and assert himself when the time comes.

It’s a skill that I feel kids need to learn while still young and the consequences of their actions (or inactions) are still small and inconsequential.

It’s important to me that all my children learn this skill as they will be encountering peer pressure and working with all types of different personalities from different backgrounds soon.  It is important to me that they know how to adjust their communication technique depending on who they’re talking to in order to get the best results without losing themselves in the process.

Admittedly, A seems to have no problem with his peers because people around him SEEM to be eager to be his friend since he’s charming and kind.  He has had no problems with bullies and he seems to be generally well-liked.

Luckily, he is usually picked as the leader of the groups he’s involved in which is also helping us tremendously in our quest to teach him to be a little bit more assertive as it forces him to do things he normally wouldn’t do.

We are slowly pushing him to be more verbal at home through reminders and talks.  Sometimes, we consciously listen to his softer voice over the two louder ones.

We have a few more years to go.  My Gentle Baby is going to be a Gentleman soon.



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