Positive Assertiveness Begins with Character Education and Includes the Abuse of Cigarettes, Alcohol and Drugs

By Cassel, Russell N.; Blackwell, John | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Positive Assertiveness Begins with Character Education and Includes the Abuse of Cigarettes, Alcohol and Drugs


Cassel, Russell N., Blackwell, John, Journal of Instructional Psychology


There are three kinds of assertiveness: (1) positive, (2) negative, and (3) absence of assertiveness. Positive assertiveness always involves the use of the scientific process of decision making. Negative assertiveness typically involves trying to live as an adult before one has reached the adult stage, and typically involves the "get rich quick" mode for operation. The absence of assertiveness too often involves fear of making mistakes, and such action typically creates excessive fear patterns.

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Today, as never before, it is essential that the counselor and school psychologist help our teen age youngsters understand the role of "positive assertiveness" in their future growth and development (Cassel, 2002).. It should be clearly recognized that "assertiveness" ranges from "positive assertiveness' through "non assertiveness" to "negative assertiveness." The selection of which one of these choices one makes impacts more favorably on the personal development and later success in life than anything else that one does. The problem, then, is for our youth to understand the difference between the three different approaches to life, and more specifically what to expect from different choices as a consequence; so they can make a clear judgment of which choice to select.

Nature of Assertiveness

First, it is important that we understand what it means to be assertive, and then we can try to understand the difference between the positive and negative approaches. The dictionary says: "assertive means to put one's self forward boldly and insistently." It is clear that to be assertive means to be involved, and that personal action is always initiated in relation to such involvement. Things don't simply happen in this world; rather people make things happen, and whether or not what happens is for the better or worse for an individual is determined largely on whether or not it involves "assertiveness;" and second-and most important-to be sure that the assertiveness is "positive" in nature.

Positive Assertiveness

Since we learned that "assertiveness" means putting one's self forward boldly and insistently, it is clear that both positive and negative assertiveness have that same quality. The real question, then, is what makes "positive assertiveness" different from "negative assertiveness." Positive assertiveness means that an individual is involved in a very specific direction, but always in relation to expected positive outcomes from such involvement. In general, positive consequences means future growth in a direction toward being more prepared for the life in the later adult world. Typically, this often means a willingness to forego some immediate pleasure in order to gain greater stature to face the many crisis states in that future world of tomorrow (Rogers, 1945).

Goal Setting

Both "positive" and "negative" assertiveness at times involve careful goal setting, but there is a major difference in the nature of the goal setting process. "Positive" assertiveness involves the scientific process for decision making (goal setting),, and which is sometimes referred to as the "systems" approach. This process must be learned early in life, and typically it is introduced at the beginning of the adolescent years; usually early in 9th grade when the individual is about 14 years of age. The following stages have been clearly defined to serve as the basis for scientific decision making (Cassel, 1973):

1. There must be a clearly defined goal, this means expected outcome as a result of some well defined action.

2. There must be full consideration of "constraints," and this means moral or religious reasons why one would not accept such goal-, not only, to gain wealth.

3. Examine "full" range of choices., and this always includes from -militant" through "middle of the road" to "Passive" ones (often persons in each of these positions will not permit an examination of any other position). …

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