How to Help Your Overly-Compliant Child


Got a kid who can’t—or won’t—assert herself around others?   Highlights Magazine interviewed me, Dr. Michele Borba, and Dr. Kristin Buss for strategies on how to help passive young people find their voices. Check out our responses using the link below and at the “Smart Answer to Parents’ Toughest Questions” section on


For more information on helping your child move beyond passivity, aggression, or passive aggression and on to more assertive communication, check out the activities, games and discussion ideas in How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids & Teens.

What’s Your Anger Expression Style? Take this Quiz to Find Out


Is your child the type to come right out and tell you when he is feeling angry? Does he stuff his anger inside? Perhaps he is most likely to express his feelings in sneaky ways. Or maybe, when he is mad, the whole world knows about it—and better step aside! Whatever your child’s anger style, chances are he has developed it over the years and modeled it after…gulp…much-loved family members.

Take this Anger Styles Quiz to learn about how anger is articulated in your family: (more…)

>Passive Aggression for the Obsessive Compulsive


>When kids feel the heat of angry adults, they have many choices in how to react. Some return the anger with physically aggressive behavior. Others remain passive and walk on eggshells to placate the adult. This example, submitted by Robert on 9/27/09, shows a child with his own style of responding to an playmate’s hostile mother:

As a child I was occasionally forced to endure the overbearingly strict rules enforced by my friends’ parents. At this point it is important to note that I believe rules are essential for any child. In the case of my friend Dave Thompson however, his parents didn’t just set the ordinary rules as expected from any parent.

Upon arrival at Dave’s house, I would be given the ‘orientation’ by his mother, in which she would warn me of the repercussions for touching or moving anything besides what she had given Dave to play with for the day. Even these toys had to be returned before beginning any new activity, the punishment being ‘automatic suspension’ from Dave’s house for the foreseeable future. Every time I moved away from the toys we had been given for even a second, Dave’s mother would appear, hovering over us, watching over my every move.

Eventually I grew tired with these overbearing rules, along with Dave’s constant insecurity at upsetting his mother. I realized my own inability as a young child to face up to this fearsome woman, so devised the perfect plan to take revenge in my own subtle way. I noticed that his mother was constantly obsessing that every item in the house be situated exactly where she wished it to be. I convinced Dave to join me in my evil retaliation scheme. We moved every item in the playroom ever so slightly out of position, just enough that it wouldn’t be noticeable to any regular human being, besides to our very own Mrs. Thompson of course.

Think he was ever invited back? How long do you think it took Mrs. Thompson to rearrange her world?

What did you do when you were a kid to deal with the mean parent on the block?

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