Positive Parenting Tip: Being Kind & Firm
Most times when we feel guilty as parents is because we have either been too controlling or too permissive. We all feel happiest when we are Kind & Firm. Kids love routine and boundaries, even when they are pushing them. Being Kind & Firm requires parents to be Pro-Active instead of Reactive. Being meaningful and intentional by taking a step back and really thinking before acting in a given situation.
When we are too permissive in our parenting we have not set boundaries for the child . We feel sorry for our children when they make mistakes and give excuses for behavior instead allowing kids to learn from them and take ownership of their actions. When we parent this way our kids have all the power, we are in a since being parented by them. Jane Nelsen calls this being ‘Milquetoast’.
When we are too controlling we look to find blame and resort to using threats and/or punishment. We expect children to obey what we say just because we are the parent. This parenting style doesn’t explain why or honor any questioning. Fear is used as the primary discipline tool. Jane Nelsen calls this being ‘The Boss’.
Those who Jane Nelsen calls ‘Kind & Firm’ are parents who don’t allow themselves or their children to feel guilty. We understand that all people no matter how big or small make mistakes and we learn from them. We give our children the space to make mistakes, yes, over and over, and learn from them each time along the way. Becoming a ‘Kind & Firm’ parent takes time and much self-reflection. The center of this approach is that we the parents need to change our behavior to allow our children to learn from theirs.
I, on occasion slip into being ‘The Boss’ to being ‘Milquetoast’ and back to being my preferred ‘Kind & Firm’. Remember, we all make mistakes and can use them to learn. If I lose my temper and yell, yes, it does happen…When I make this mistake I apologize to my children and make it a teachable moment about humanness. I explain that maybe it was my fear for their safety, or my frustration of not being heard or treated with respect. But that I shouldn’t yell because that isn’t respectful and I need to treat others as I want to be treated. We talk about our mistakes. There are times I give in to the whining, the nit-picking of each other wears me down. I give in to the movie so there will be some quiet time. I do not stand my ground. My kids know when I’m tired because usually they are tired too. We’ve done too much or we’re under the weather. I use excuses instead of bringing them into a conversation about how even when we are tired or frustrated we need to be kind. Again to treat others how we want to be treated. (Yes, treating others how we want to be treated is my main go-to rule). But honestly, sometimes just thinking about needing to explain again just makes me more tired. No one is perfect and we can all improve. I am not a perfect mom. I know that and my kids know that 🙂
All we can do is try again. Each moment, everyday. Forgive ourselves and our children. Laugh and learn from our flaws and draw strength from our love.