Proactive assertiveness instead of reactive aggressiveness or passive aggressiveness

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by SuZir, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    This is something my difficult child is working with his sport psychiatric/mental coach and I thought could be of interest also for some people here. The methods they use require quite a bit of motivation and self-awareness from difficult child's part and certainly wouldn't had worked with him just few years ago. But not all teens (even difficult child teens) are quite as immature as he was, so I thought some of you could find these interesting or even useful.

    difficult child's sport requires certain assertiveness and 'standing your ground.' On the field competitiveness and adrenaline give him the boost to achieve that little better, but off the field those have been few of difficult child's bigger problems his whole life. He has been unable to be appropriately assertive with others and instead either submitted, hold a grudge and back stabbed later, been inactively passive aggressive or, when it all was too much, lashed out in exorbitant way when things have cumulated enough. As you can probably guess, this has caused him lots and lots of social issues. And he has been left feeling wronged and misunderstood and not taking responsibility of his retaliative actions because he felt them justified.

    These issues have been difficult child's and his sport psychiatric working agenda during this autumn. They work with these both on the field and off. On the field there has been quite a lot of improvement, off... well, it has been bumpy, but I see some progress and I like how these concepts have at least become part of his thought process (according to how he tells about his daily things to me at least) and hopefully turn more and more frequently to actions.

    The method they have used is again very matter of fact and clear cut. That seems to be how difficult child is best able to handle these difficult emotional things. They have first defined the concepts of proactive assertiveness, reactive aggressiveness, passive aggressiveness and submission and 'letting it go' and what type of actions and thoughts represent which. After that they have gone through lots of real life and imaginary situations and difficult child has categorized which type of reaction his (or the imaginary) response was. After that difficult child has been coming up with the response that would represent the other categories. After lots of those difficult child has been coming up with predictions how the situation goes on after different type of responses.

    This has been done mostly with the 'worksheets' and difficult child has been writing down his answers. Mostly likely because of the situation (difficult child is abroad and he and his sport psychiatric mostly work online), but apparently also to give difficult child time to consider and think his answers and take his time and not be pressured which easily makes him shut down and give up with things like this. Next step according to difficult child is to start to make those predictions more quickly. To work recognizing and categorizing those different type of choices to quick and automatic reactions, so he could more easily choose an appropriate response to real life situations.

    difficult child likes his sport psychiatric (and I too) because of his ability to both analyse things and situations that for difficult child tend to appear just a messy and impossible 'problem' and to come up with ways to help difficult child understand those situations in his terms, avoiding all messy and mushy, entangled emotional stuff and turn them to cognitive tasks he can learn to solve.

    I so hope we would had someone like this guy to help difficult child before. Of course like I said, difficult child wouldn't had been ready or willing to do the work this requires when he was younger. It takes motivation and willingness to do the work and admit he is the one with the problem, not rest of the world (at least not all the time and only the rest of the world.)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    This could help my Duckie. While she's not overtly athletic. she is very competitive and seeks to dominate those around her. I see it a lot in her music/drama where she must audition. Woe to the friend that goes up against her.
  3. Aimless

    Aimless New Member

    Hi SuZir,
    Brilliant and Well put!!!

    Our difficult child is also an aspiring athlete and loves his sport. I had never thought to articulate it the way the you have here. We also use analogies to playing soccer when we are trying to address a need for understanding life off the field. My husband played professionally so he has a much better understanding of the psychology of the game but I try. Our difficult child is very confinement and able to focus beautifully on the game without any conflicts what so ever. In fact, he's never had an incident of aggression or anger on the field even tho he has been the victim of some very unsportsmanlike conduct many times due to his small stature and phenomenal talent. He just focuses even harder and scores on them again.

    Thank you for making this post because it inspires me to work even harder to draw more inferences to this game he loves and understands when trying to help him understand the game of life!
  4. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Although I am not "in the game" I can't tell you how emotional response these thread trigger. I "thought" I would be where you guys are and there is a sense of loss as well as a sense of relief. Sigh DDD
  5. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I wish we could clone his sport therapist. This sounds great for difficult child 1. Maybe in a few years for the other difficult children.
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Tiredmommy: Yes, making those responses to others more conscious could help also that. If you consider it a skill; 'play nice with others under conflict situations' it could be something our kids could find worthwhile. After all, most of them kind of want to get along with others (if only everyone would just behave like they want them to behave ;)) My text did maybe not make it clear, but also submitting (both with holding grudge and without) and 'letting it go' are categorized as different responses with different feelings, thought processes and actions attached. For my difficult child the proactive assertiveness is the most difficult one (and he doesn't much show proactive aggressiveness so that they are not paying much attention, because it is certainly not a goal) and one they work most with. But with different kids the goal behaviours can of course be different. But I just find the whole concept of making these kinds of responses to cognitive ones and not just gut reactions very worthwhile.

    Aimless: For my difficult child, when he was younger, there were lots of times when the sport seemed to be an only thing going for difficult child. And even in that the actual performance part, being a team member has always been, and still is, a struggle. His PTSD is also, for a big part, because of something that happen inside the team. But his passion for his sport has often been the last straw we have had with motivating him and at times an only thing that seem to bring happiness for him so we couldn't really keep it as a bargaining chip, as much as we would had liked at times (you know, whole 'if you don't go to school, behave this or that way etc., you can't go to practises either' thing, tried that and it was a miserable failure.) But in the end I have found that it was much more valuable as a place and motivation to teach him skills he needs also in real world. He may not like that he has to come along with other guys at locker room, but because he knows he has to if he wants to achieve his sport goals, he is ready to work for it (even if it also means calling mommy and whining about it quite often, that I can take.)

    Liahona: Cloning difficult child's sport psychiatric would really come in need. He is amazing. Very interesting and varied background (has some sport experience of his own, used to be ambitious career military, before the life stepped in and made it impossible for him and has some rather remarkable experience from those days and charisma to go with that, also his mother is a paediatric psychiatric and keeps Residential Treatment Center (RTC) type of thing so he has that insight to troubled kids etc.) He also has lots of varying life experience and knows how to use all that in how he works.

    With difficult child at least it also helps that he is very manly man in both appearance and background. difficult child is still young and naive enough to buy lots of the macho culture he is surrounded with and I think he would have much more difficulties with working with a female sport psychiatric or guy he finds less manly. The credibility factor would just not be the same as it is with his sport psychiatric. With him it is easier for difficult child to admit his vulnerabilities, because if he says it is okay to have them and work with them, difficult child has easier time to believe it than if someone with less macho credibility would say the same thing.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Reread my last comment and noticed that my comment to Liahona seems to go bit off on a tangent. What I tried to say is, that one more thing that is so very great in difficult child's sport psychiatric is, that he is able to make difficult child feel, that it is okay he has these issues. That they are not some deeply shameful defects that make him less than a man, less than others. You can't work on something you can't admit and you can't admit something that would shatter you to non-existence. difficult child's sport psychiatric has been able to make difficult child see those issues as just issues. Things and skills he is not (yet) very good at and which hinder him and need some work before he can move on.

    Just the share amount of energy that difficult child has been able to release from trying to (unsuccessfully) hide these 'dirty little secrets' of his to actually trying to work them out is astounding. And while difficult child's maturation, and some other people who have supported him and some life events that has boosted his self-confidence, do play a role in that, his sport psychiatric has been one biggest contributor to make that happen.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Your sons sport psychiatric sounds amazing. I totally agree with how he is dealing with your son. When I was in therapy worksheets were very helpful because it gave you time to see that if X happens and you do Y, this is the result but if X happens and you do Z something else may happen.

    *Lots of kids can be helped if they learn to name their emotions and learn how to deal with those emotions.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting! Thank you. Best of luck to him. Sounds like he's really making progress.