Family Conversation Starters: Teaching Aggression and Passivity

The advice I will be offering my children when they have kids of their own, and great family conversation starters.

Bonus Tip: Only offer parenting advice when your child asks!

Teach The Value of Aggression and Passivity

When I talk about aggression and passivity I am speaking about constructive aggression and constructive passivity. A lot of adults don’t know there is constructive aggression and passivity. A lot of adults are convinced that passivity is right or wrong, or aggression is right or wrong. Viewing aggression and passivity as right or wrong is a formula to become stuck, and this type of thinking only provides one way of knowing how to deal with problems.

The goal is for our children and ourselves to use passivity and aggression constructively when it’s called for.

It’s common for people to be either passive or aggressive. It’s important to understand the value of both.

Constructive aggression is used when someone is trying for a gold medal, confronting a problem, or swerves out of the way of an animal or person in the road.

Constructing passivity is used when agreeing to disagree, respecting someone who is on a different page, or taking a one down when you recognize there is someone else in the room with more experience or leadership qualities.

There are constructive parts of both and you want to pass both on to your children.

You want to avoid destructive aggression and passivity.

Destructive aggression is yelling, losing your temper, demanding, and/or calling names.

Destructive passivity is letting something happen without stepping in, taking the one down when you have experience, knowledge, or leadership skills to offer.

Steering away from destructive behaviors and towards constructive behavior will help your child greatly, and this is what we want!

How do you teach constructive aggression and passivity to your child?

In case you haven’t figured this out already, telling your child what to do is not a good idea.

It’s not a good idea because when you tell your child what to do, and they do it, they’re doing it because you said so, and not because they’ve learned and developed on their own. It’s important for your child to experiment with both aggression and passivity, that way they can decide themselves what works best for them in each situation.

To promote experimenting with both, start asking questions, instead of telling your child what to do. The key parenting component as a child gets older is to ask a lot of questions. This is from middle school until adulthood.

A great way to talk about constructive aggression or passivity with your child is to bring it up during familytime. Having these type of casual discussions are great family conversation starters. This is a time to ask questions, go over scenarios, and get your child’s input on how to handle certain situations and provides you with “get to know you questions for kids.”


Let’s say your child tells you they’re not getting enough playing time in their sports games, and they are going to confront their coach.

Passivity Approach

The parent may respond by saying, “Oh no, don’t do that. You’re going to cause problems.”

This is code for telling your child what to do, and what not to do. You don’t want your tendency to take over their decision.

Instead, ask questions.

Ask questions such as, “What will you say when you confront your coach?”

Your child may respond by saying, “I want to know why he’s not playing me, I want to know how to get more playing time.” That is a good response from your child, right? In return respond by saying, “Okay, let me know how that turns out.”

Aggressive Approach

If your child says, they’re going to tell their coach to play them, or else… You might want to ask them, “How do you think that’s going to go?” or “Would you like it if someone approached you that way?” Again, you don’t want to say, “Oh, don’t do that!” Just ask questions, and see if they can come up with a solution on their own.

If your child confronted the coach and it didn’t go so well, you don’t want to respond with, “I told you so.” Use this opportunity to ask more questions such as, “How would you do it differently next time?”

The Goal

The goal is for your child to use what works for them, but also let them know there are other ways to approach situations.

If your child isn’t sure about a different approach, try offering different suggestions for your child to choose from. This gives your child the opportunity to get more experience in using both, constructive passivity and constructive aggression, and this is great family conversation starters.

Would you like more guidance in parenting? If you need help with developing a personalized plan just for you and your child, contact us via call or text at 804-420-8003, or contact us by clicking here.

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