Learn more about our MTSS Process for SEL and the special, limited offer available for Washington schools!

Try Kindness and Firmness at the Same Time

Contributed by Melanie Miller, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer

Ever feel like you’re doing the “Parenting Dance”? The one where your kids push your buttons until you can’t take it anymore so you yell and scream and send them off to their rooms. Then, you feel bad about the yelling and screaming so the next time that they ask for a cookie before dinner, or they just don’t feel like doing their homework, you give in. “Sure honey, have a cookie….take two…..and don’t worry about your homework, I’ll write your teacher a note”. Then you feel resentful, now your children aren’t eating their dinner and they’re playing xbox while you’re feeling guilty about the homework not getting done. So, you yell, scream, send them to their room and the dance continues.

Guess who controls this dance?

Rather than trying to balance kindness and firmness, try using kindness and firmness at the same time. Some examples of this are….

Think “Kind and Firm”: When your child is pushing your buttons, think in your head “kind and firm, kind and firm”. See what happens with your voice, your body language and your actions.

Eliminate “OK” from the end of your sentences: If you say to your child, “We’re going to leave the park in 10 minutes OK? You are now asking your child for permission to leave.

Connect before Correct: Meet your child at eye level with a friendly face (connect) and then be clear about what you expect (correct).

Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements: Say, “I need you to clean up your art supplies.” rather than “you need to clean up your art supplies.” If your child felt a need to clean up the art supplies they would have already been cleaned up! Take responsibility for your needs and start more requests with the word “I”.

Let routines be the boss: “We have 20 minutes until we walk to the bus stop, What else do you need to do to be ready for school?”

Give limited choices: “It’s time to make your lunch for school. Do you want to make the sandwich or pack up all the other items”

Use ten words or less: No need to lecture, the fewer the words, the better.

Ask with curiosity: “What needs to be done in order for you to be ready for your soccer game?”

Write a note: Rather than repeating yourself, write down your request and give it to your child. Keep the post it notes handy!

If you set a limit, follow through: With mutual respect for your needs and the needs of the child use a calm, firm attitude and voice with no shame or blame.

Kindness and Firmness at the same time helps me to set boundaries and limits in my home. It allows me to have respect for my needs and respect for my children. If I can be kind and firm with my children, I notice them being kind and firm with each other and with me. It quiets the dance. It gives me some peace of mind. I can be the kind and loving mom that I want to be while having respect for my needs and the needs of our family.

Melanie is a Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and works as a Parent Educator and Grade School Counselor. She offers parenting classes in the Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, WA area and is available as a Parent Coach and Trainer of professionals who work with families and in schools. You can contact her at Melanie_miller@verizon.net. To find out more about Positive Discipline www.sounddiscipline.org (local) or www.positivediscipline.org (international).