How to Be Kind and Firm as a Parent

People often express that being a parent is somehow the most difficult job and the most rewarding job simultaneously. Parents have the responsibility of raising children and teaching them skills they will need in adulthood, so it can be helpful for parents to connect with professionals who are trained in parenting education. When I meet with my clients’ parents, one of my goals is to increase the number of tools in their “parenting toolbelt” so they are well-equipped to effectively care for and teach their children.

As a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, I teach families about The Positive Discipline approach to parenting, created by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott. This approach emphasizes the importance of being both kind and firm as a parent. While some parents are too kind, other parents can be too firm.

In a household in which there are two parents, it can be typical for one parent to be overly kind, lenient, and permissive while the other parent is strict and punitive. This can lead to a child feeling confused since they receive different responses from each parent.

Finding the right balance between being both kind and firm at the same time can be helpful for the parent and child.

Being kind to a child demonstrates that we respect them. Being firm indicates we respect ourselves and the needs of the situation. A great example of practicing being both kind and firm is the statement, “I love you, AND the answer is no,” which reminds your child you love them while also setting limits and being firm. Using the word and instead of but is helpful because using the word but seems to negate the first part of the sentence whereas using the word and allows both points to be true.

Below are some examples of practicing being both kind and firm:

  • “I hear that you are disappointed that it’s bed time AND it’s time to brush your teeth. Want me to come with you?” 
  • “I understand you are frustrated about your chores list AND helping out around the house is necessary.”
  • “You want to keep playing outside AND it’s time to come inside because dinner is on the table.”

It takes time to develop a new parenting skill, so be patient with yourself as you practice being kind and firm. Over time, you will notice that practicing being a kind and firm parent will lead to more effective parenting and a healthier relationship with your child.

Interested in learning more parenting skills? We encourage you to reach out to us at GROW Counseling so we can connect you with one of our counselors!

Written by: Mary Anne Sylvester