“Because I said so!” is totally different than “Let’s talk about it!“
“Fine! stop crying, you don’t have to clean up your toys” is totally different than “I understand you don’t want to do clean up your toys, AND what did we agree on?”
“I love you, AND no, you can’t use the tablet before sleeping.“
The magic and power of “AND” is worth using.
You might get confused in identifying the difference between firmness and strictness. As well as the difference between kindness and leniency.
Being firm doesn’t mean being strict and forcefully implementing rules without reasoning and explanation to your child. It also doesn’t mean using punishment, along with cold feelings, as a way of controlling your child’s behavior. If you adopt strictness as your parenting style, your children might tend to become rebellious and have low self-esteem.
Being kind doesn’t mean being lenient and often compromising rules to accommodate your child’s mood. It also doesn’t mean avoiding confrontation or feeling afraid to take any action that may upset your child. Even though this may seem like your child’s favorite parenting style, children feel safer around structured parents who provide clear boundaries. If you adopt leniency as your parenting style, your children will lack self-discipline and respect. This will harm them while experiencing social teenage pressures and challenges.
The correct meaning of being firm is setting clear rules that are consistent and discussed ahead of time, in which s/he understands the importance of following them without any tantrums or begging. When you implement these rules with a great sense of warmth, then you have successfully achieved the goal of being firm and kind.
Being firm and kind means that you have high expectations of your child that are catered for his/her trait, style, and personality.
The long-term benefit of being firm and kind lies in helping your children be independent, responsible and accountable for their actions. By making them bear the consequences of their actions without excuses or too many changes/chances, you teach them to be self-disciplined.
Always prepare your children for expected situations that might lead them to misbehave and agree on some consequences beforehand, in case they decide to act up. For example, before going to the supermarket, discuss with them the reasons for not buying any sweets (maybe because there’s a lot of sweets at home, or because they already had their sweet for the day, etc..). You also need to mention that in case they start crying in the supermarket, you will take one sweet away when you go back home. By doing this, you are preparing your children to watch out for a conflict that might happen, and you are helping them become responsible for their actions. Should the conflict take place and your children start crying in the supermarket, remind them “I understand that you want a sweet, AND, what was the reason we won’t get one?”. If they decide to continue crying, then make sure to implement what you have agreed on when you go home, saying “I love you AND I want to teach you how to be responsible for your decisions.”
The confusion lies in how some parents interpret their children’s understanding of both words. Don’t worry, children won’t feel unloved by having firm parents, and vice versa, they won’t feel loved more by having kind parents.
When your child feels the warmth in your firmness and understands that it is out of love, s/he will gradually accept it.
Have a balanced mix of both firmness and kindness without being extreme in either of them.
‘Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean’.