A foundation of Positive Discipline is being Kind AND Firm at the same time. Some parents are too firm which results in authoritarian-style parenting. Being too firm sounds like and looks like pain, blame and shame. It might sound like yelling and look like grounding. Punishment leads to children feeling resentment, revenge, rebellion or retreating. Some parents are too kind which results in permissive parenting. Being too kind sounds like and looks like pleasing, rescuing, over-protecting, pampering or no rules and no boundaries. These methods lead to our children not feeling capable and not developing any resiliency.
Most parents, like myself, bounce back and forth between too kind until we can’t stand how entitled are children have become to too firm, until we can’t stand the tyrant we’ve become. When we do this our children don’t know what to expect, there’s no consistency which leads to insecurity. What we must strive for is a balance of kindness and firmness at the same time, known as authoritative parenting. This looks like and sounds like mutual respect, encouragement and support.
I have to say this has probably been the most challenging aspect of parenting for me. With my eldest son, before Positive Discipline, I was definitely too kind, in that I did too much for him that he was capable of doing himself. I can’t tell you how many times I drove all the way back home to fetch his soccer cleats that he had forgot for the game. I totally micro managed his life, closely monitoring every assignment he turned in. Then when he started to pull away, as teenagers do, I became way too firm and controlling. I practiced what I believed in at the time as tough love, which ultimately pushed him away. I started practicing Positive Discipline and getting a handle on being kind and firm at the same time until my third child and only daughter threw me for a loop with some risky behaviors. I felt lost about what it meant to be kind and firm when so much was at stake and started to lean towards punishment out of fear. But, we found our way through and came out the better for it. Now with my youngest son and being in quarantine for three months, I’ve probably swung back over to the too kind side.
It takes conscious work to find the balance between kind and firm. I encourage you to be conscious this week with your wording, try some of the tools mentioned in the graph above and let me know how things go! I'd love to hear about it. Remember, It takes conscious work finding the right balance for your family and we might not always get it right, but as long as we’re making a conscious effort we’re on the right track.
Big Love, Your Parenting Coach,