Why Kindness and Firmness are Important

Begin by validating feelings or showing understanding. Offer a choice when possible. 

Examples: 

  • I know you don’t want to brush your teeth, and we can do it together. 
  • You want to keep playing, and It is time for bed. Do you want one story or two? 

Kindness is important in order to show respect for the child. Firmness is important in order to show respect for ourselves and for the needs of the situation. Authoritarian methods usually lack kindness. Permissive methods lack firmness. Kindness and firmness are essential. 

Many parents and teachers struggle with this concept for many reasons. One is that they often don’t feel like being kind when a child has “pushed their buttons.” Again, I want to ask, “If adults want children to control their behavior, is it too much to ask that adults learn to control their own behavior?” Often, it is the adults who should take some Positive Time-out until they can “feel” better so they can “do” better. 

Let’s tackle firmness. Most adults are used to thinking that firmness means punishment, lectures, or some other form of control. Not so. Firmness, when combined with kindness, means respect for the child, for you, and for the situation. 

Parents and teachers habitually lecture and make demands. Children often respond by resisting or rebelling. The following kind and firm phrases will help you avoid disrespectful language and increase cooperation: 

  • Your turn is coming. 
  • I know you can say that in a respectful way. 
  • I care about you and will wait until we can both be respectful to continue this conversation. 
  • I know you can think of a helpful solution. 
  • Act, don’t talk. (For example, quietly and calmly take the child by the hand and show him or her what needs to be done.) 
  • We’ll talk about this later. 
  • Now it is time to get in the car. (When child is having a temper tantrum.) 
  • We need to leave the store now. We’ll try again later (or tomorrow). 

Too Much Love Never Spoils Children. Children Become Spoiled When We Substitute Presents for Presence

It is no secret that children love new toys. They love Christmas and birthdays because of the multitude of gifts they receive. However, the most important gift any child could receive is the continual presence of his parents in his life. As a parent, giving your time, energy and love to your child is one of the most important things you can do. 

There are individuals who experience the best of the best while growing up. They receive all the latest toys, the new cars, the latest gadgets, yet their parents are rarely home. Their parents don’t bother trying to establish a close relationship. Instead, they try to buy their child’s love. As their children grow up, they don’t have a close-knit relationship. In fact, they rarely speak. Unfortunately, these children learn to grow up without the help of their parents, and now they don’t need their family unless it is for financial means. 

The relationship between parents and children is established at a very young age. Children learn to rely on their parents for everything from changing their diapers to feeding them each meal. Even though parents may work full-time away from the home, they can still be present in their child’s life. They can still do all they can to develop a strong relationship with their child based on love and understanding. Here are a few reasons why presence is more important in your child’s life than the latest and greatest present. 

Children need your example. 

A child’s first school is the home. This is the place where children learn basic skills such as how to speak, walk, use the toilet, hold a fork, etc. Children learn these skills from watching others. Parents set an example for children. If a child sees a parent performing a certain task, the child feels it is also OK to do it. When you are present in your child’s life, you help shape your child into the person you know he can become. Children look up to you their entire lives and your actions speak much louder than any amount of money. Show your children, by your example and your actions, that you want what is best for them. 

Involvement helps build child’s self-esteem. When you are involved in your child’s life, you help him gain confidence and build up his self-esteem. This is important to a child’s mental health. When these feelings do not exist, the child is more likely to be insecure and have feelings of low self-worth. 

A strong relationship builds child’s communication skills. 

When parents are present in a child’s life, they spend more time talking to the child. Whereas, when a child is just given a gift, they are usually by themselves for an extended period of time. Communication with parents is essential for establishing critical skills. Vocabulary, grammar and even basic socializing skills can all be learnt through constant communication between a child and a parent. 

At first, presents may seem like a great way to win your child’s love but they will never take the place of being present. Children grow up too quickly. Don’t let their childhood slip by without being involved and letting your actions show your child how much your care. 

Perfect Parenting Doesn’t Exist

It is great to be informed, to research, to grow your knowledge and understanding, and to parent with intention. Just remember, even with all of that, there are no perfect parents. Everyone makes mistakes, has bad moments, bad days and episodes that didn’t go well. No parent can handle every single parenting challenge with grace, patience and control. 


 
Our ability to manage day to day, hour to hour reflects so many things. How much down time we’ve had. How tired we are. How much we feel supported. How well we’ve eaten. How well our other relationships and adult tasks are going. How many children we have to split ourselves between. The different temperaments and needs of our children. The list is endless. 

 
We’re not here to wave a flag that says because of that – behave however you like, it doesn’t matter. But we’re very much here to remind you today that despite all our best intentions, no one is perfect and everyone messes up at times. Try not to be hard on yourself when you do. Learn from it, repair as best as you can, then let it go and move on. Parenting is hard. You’re doing your best! 

Teach Kids How To Think

Kids say lots of stuff. Some of it unpleasant. Some of it complicated. Lots of it that we have the urge to react to, correct or change. 
 
We often hear our kids says something not-so-nice about others or about themselves and then want to replace their words with words and ideas of our own, life lessons from our experiences. 
 
Here’s the thing: it’s not that useful. The shelf life is limited. 
 
Why? Because whenever we focus on telling kids what to think… we miss out on an opportunity to teach them how to think. When we try to replace their stories with our own, we miss out on an opportunity to help kids learn to pause, reflect and *ask themselves questions* – the processes necessary for change and growth. 
 
As parents we like life lessons too. Yes of course we can tell our kids things like: being first in line doesn’t mean anything about importance! Mommy has time for each one of you! reading chapter books isn’t a sign of intelligence! 
 
And yet, every time we say something like this – some platitude – it just always feels like it falls flat. There’s almost nowhere to go from there, maybe only our kid saying, “Thanks mom” and then walking off, still feeling a bit defeated. Our attempts to teach our kids what to think only feels somewhat helpful to them. 
 
So, what else can we do? Pause. Ask questions. Activate curiosity. 

When our kids say the comments that prompt the platitudes – comments like, I have to be first in line! You don’t have enough time for me! I can’t read chapter books like my friends! – well, first pause. Take a breath. Then consider the following: 

Tell your child, “I’m so glad we’re talking about this. It’s so important.” 

Then tell your child, “I can tell this really matters to you. You really know that, and I can see it.” 

Then learn more through inquiry. Some starters: Tell me more; And then what happened; Oh, keep going; Tell me how that works; Tell me how that feels; Tell me what would feel better; Let’s figure this out together. 

When we pause and learn, we teach children to look at their own thoughts, to ask themselves questions, to be curious about the way they think and feel. What a gift to start this circuitry early in life. 

Ways To Ensure Your Kids Feel Loved

As a parent now, are you making the effort to ensure your kids feel loved? Very often, it is the small things that count. 

Here are ways to make your kids feel loved. When you become grandparents, you will be touched that they still remember them. 

1. Turn off your smartphone. 

When you get home or your kids get back from school, turn off your phone and give them your full attention at least for the first half hour or so. The kids love this because they know you are not going to be distracted by texts as they tell you what happened at school.  

2. Turn off the TV and all gadgets at mealtimes. 

It is not much fun when kids have to compete with TV commercials or everybody texting away. Mealtimes are rare moments to enjoy each other’s company. There are enormous advantages for kids. They eat more healthily as it is not rushed. They also enjoy the companionship of their parents and they are much less likely to have an eating disorder later on. 

3. Make bedtime a precious moment. 

Younger kids will always treasure those moments when you read them a story as they drift happily into sleep. It is enormously reassuring and it is a unique bonding experience for parents and kids. The extra bonus is that this also helps your child’s brain development. 

4. Show physical affection. 

Countless studies show that kids thrive on warmth and affection. The child feels loved and will have a greater self-esteem. There is no need to go overboard but a kiss or a hug once a day will do you both a lot of good. It lessens the chances of your kids becoming aggressive, anti-social and having other behavioral problems. While adolescents might be embarrassed at the physical affection, there should always be words of support and empathy to take its place. 

5. Spend quality time with each child. 

It is wonderful when a parent or both parents can spend one-on-one quality time with each of their kids. This is great because they will each feel special, when given that attention away from their brothers or sisters. It can be anything from playing sports, cooking, or helping with chores. There is no better way of showing your kids that you really love and cherish them. 

6. Discipline them with love and affection. 

The key to successful parenting is not to switch on the love when they do well and deny it when they misbehave. There are no conditions but just a steady flow of affection so that kids feel their parents’ love is truly unconditional. 

7. Be a great role model. 

How many times have you told your kids what to do, how to be polite and to always wear their seat belt? Oftentimes, parents forget that they must be the perfect role models because children are great copycats. No better way to show that you love your kids than to walk the talk. Be kind, affectionate and caring to others and teach your kids to be color-blind about race. 

8. Involve them in decision making. 

What to wear for school the next day or where to visit when you go on holidays can be decided together with your kids. Make sure your kids are fully involved and engaged. It is also great for kids to start learning how to make decisions with their parents’ guidance. 

9. Never interrupt their stories. 

When a child has a story to tell about what happened at school never interrupt them but hear them out. The same goes when they want to share a book with you or show you a picture story. They will feel loved and wanted. If parents ignore them or are far too busy, kids will be the first to suffer and it is likely to last into adolescence and adulthood unless we really make the effort now. 

Love and affection are the foundation of happiness. By showing our kids this love every single day, we are giving them the greatest gift of all. 

Help Shape Your Child’s Brain Development

Caring interactions help shape brain development. When a parent shows sensitivity, responsiveness, and consistent caregiving at times of distress, it helps calm the nervous system by acting as a buffer to stress, and supports emotional regulation within the relationship (co-regulation).   
  
Being able to be that person and that co-regulator for our toddlers is so important because they cannot hold on to their own stresses at this age, it’s too much and they are too little.  
  
They need to be able to share it with someone who will be able to be a calm and stable shelter for their pain. The more you practice this, the easier it will be for them to eventually hold their own pain (co-regulation -> self- regulation) 
  
It sometimes doesn’t seem like much, hugging, staying close, giving space, giving empathy- but it really is everything for infants and toddlers. Their growing brains depend on it. 

Honor Your Children’s Boundaries

It’s critical that our children know that they can disagree. It’s imperative that they know they can experiment with boundaries without being cutoff. To be clear, when your child misbehaves, it’s okay to be upset; however, it’s not okay to emotionally disconnect. There’s a difference between disconnecting from your child and remaining connected and managing the behavior. ⁠ 
 
Emotional disconnection is withdrawing without explanation or avoiding your child whereas remaining connected will involve an explanation for what’s happening without becoming hostile, aggressive, or withdrawn. 
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This pulling away and disconnection teaches our children some of their earliest lessons on boundaries. What they learn is that “I am only lovable when I behave.” This child will then learn to fall in line and keep the peace. They will avoid disagreeing to keep the relationship. They may fear that setting boundaries will lead to loss of relationships. ⁠ 
 
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A better approach to this is speaking about the behavior you’re hoping to change or pointing out what you notice. Here are some examples: ⁠ 
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“I see you’re frustrated, but you still can’t go outside right now.”⁠ 
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“When you scream like that it hurts my ears. Lower the volume and I’ll be able to hear you better.”⁠ 
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They may persist. What should you do? ⁠ 
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1. Hold your own boundary. ⁠ 
2. Tell them they are allowed to continue, but you’ll have to remove yourself (obviously if safe). ⁠ 
3. Show them what it looks like to do this appropriately without yelling or using forceful behavior. ⁠ 

Honoring Your Child’s Humanity

When we invalidate children’s feelings and experiences by minimizing, discrediting, accusing, or rushing them, we teach them to respond to their own feelings—and the feelings of others—the same way. We create in them an inner voice that will continue to discredit both themselves (“it’s not that bad, I shouldn’t feel so sad”) and others (it’s not that bad, YOU shouldn’t feel so sad). ⁣ 
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Instead of minimizing (“Stop crying, it wasn’t that big a deal”), try connecting (“it sounds like you’re feeling really sad. I’m here with you.”) ⁣ 
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Instead of discrediting (“I know you’re angry, but you have to stay calm”) try validating (“I hear that you’re too upset to be calm right now. Do you want space or would you like to talk about it?”) ⁣ 
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️Instead of accusing (“Your teacher wouldn’t send you to the principal for no reason, you must have been goofing off.”), try empathizing (“To you, what happened at school felt really unfair. I’m listening.”) ⁣ 
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Instead of rushing (“I don’t want to hear it anymore.”) try empathizing (“Wow, it sounds like this is really hard for you. Would you like me to hold you?”) ⁣ 

8 Discipline Strategies For Kids With ADHD

When you have a child with ADHD, you may need a different approach to discipline. A few simple changes to your parenting strategies could give your child the tools they need to manage their behavior more effectively. 

Kids with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, completing tasks, managing impulses, and following directions. These discipline strategies can be instrumental in helping a child with challenging behaviors to follow the rules. 

  • Provide positive attention – Positive playtime reduces attention-seeking behavior. And it will make your consequences more effective. No matter how difficult their behavior has been, set aside one-on-one time with your child every day. Just 15 minutes of positive attention is one of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to reduce behavior problems. 
  • Give effective instructions – Kids with short attention spans need extra help following directions. Quite often, they don’t hear the instructions in the first place. Ask your child to repeat back to you what they heard to make sure they fully understand. 
  • Praise your child’s effort – Catch your child being good and point it out. Praise motivates children with ADHD to behave, and frequent feedback is important. Make your praise specific. Instead of saying, “Nice job,” say, “Great job putting your dish in the sink right when I asked you to.” Praise your child for following directions, playing quietly, and sitting still and you’ll encourage them to keep it up. 
  • Use Time-Out when necessary – Time-out can be a good way to help kids with ADHD calm their bodies and their brains. Teach your child to go to a quiet spot to calm down when they are overstimulated or frustrated. Create a comfortable area and calmly guide them there, not as punishment, but as a way to soothe themselves. Eventually, your child will learn to go to this place on their own before they get into trouble. 
  • Ignore Mild Misbehaviors – Ignoring mild misbehaviors teaches them that obnoxious behavior won’t get them desired results. Ignore whining, complaining, loud noises, and attempts to interrupt you. Eventually, your child will stop. 
  • Allow for Natural Consequences – Sometimes, allowing for natural consequences makes more sense than trying to convince a child to make a better choice. For example, if your child refuses to take a break from playing to eat lunch, simply put the food away. The natural consequence is that they will likely be hungry later and will have to wait until dinner to eat. Tomorrow, they will be more motivated to eat lunch when it is served. 
  • Establish a Reward System – Establish a few target token-earning behaviors, such as staying at the table during a meal, using gentle touches with a pet, or putting toys away after using them. Then, allow tokens to be exchanged for bigger rewards, like electronics time or a chance to play a favorite game together. 
  • Work With Your Child’s Teacher – When parents work together with a child’s teacher, it increases the chances that a child will be successful in school. Some children need modifications to their schoolwork, such as being allowed extra time on tests, to be successful. 

Acknowledge Your Child’s Strengths

You’ll be doing this every time you acknowledge their strengths, the brave things they do, their effort when they do difficult things; and their tiny shuffles or big leaps towards braveness. 
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This isn’t always easy. Their anxiety will trigger ours – when our children feel unsafe, often so will we. So, we have to hang on strong to the truth of it all – that we know they can do this. If you feel yourself believing in their anxiety more than their braveness, remind yourself that they will believe in themselves when you do. Then, breathe, find calm and let your courage lead theirs. 

Build Small Everyday Moments With Your Child

Whether you’re a stay at home or a working parent, not providing our children with “everything they need” can immediately put us in a state of guilt. ⁣⁣ 
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We see images on social media of people taking big vacations, taking their kids to see the latest show, enrolling in three different lessons, or buying the best baby swing and we question whether or not our child is missing out by not having all of the extras. ⁣⁣ 
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While vacations are wonderful and lessons are great, our children do not need much apart from a safe and nurturing relationship during those early years of life. ⁣⁣ 
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They may remember going to Disneyworld and getting to meet Elsa or Mr. Incredible but when they grow up and someone asks them, what was it like growing up with your parents? ⁣⁣ 
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We hope that they’ll say, 
 
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I remember my mom sitting with me in the playroom building blocks, then after we used up all the blocks, we’d pretend we were bulldozers and knock down the tower. We’d roll on the floor laughing and hugging. ⁣⁣ 
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I remember waking up each Sunday morning and making pancakes with my dad. He’d let me mix all the ingredients and then I’d sit on the counter and watch him flip the pancakes. ⁣⁣ 
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Building a relationship with your children comes in the everyday ordinary moments. ⁣⁣ 
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The moments when you make small gestures to connect with your children and let them know that they are special and loved. ⁣⁣ 

How To Help Your Children Calm Down

Many children have difficulty regulating their emotions. Tantrums, outbursts, whining, defiance, fighting:  these are all behaviors you see when kids experience powerful feelings they can’t control. Parents can start by helping children understand how their emotions work. Kids don’t go from calm to sobbing on the floor in an instant. That emotion builds over time, like a wave. Kids can learn control by noticing and labeling their feelings earlier, before the wave gets too big to handle. 

Here are the 5 tips to help children calm down: 

  1. Validate their feelings. Validation is a powerful tool for helping kids calm down by communicating that you understand and accept what they’re feeling. 
  1. Paying positive attention. The most powerful tool parents have in influencing behavior is attention. When you’re shaping a new behavior, you want to praise it and give a lot of attention to it. 
  1. Clear expectations. Another key way to help prevent kids from getting dysregulated is to make your expectations clear and follow consistent routines. 
  1. Give options. When kids are asked to do things, they’re not likely to feel enthusiastic about it, giving them options may reduce outbursts and increase compliance. For instance: “You can either come with me food shopping or you can go with Dad to pick up your sister.”  Or: “You can get ready for bed now and we can read a story together — or you can get ready for bed in 10 minutes and no story.” 
  1. Five special minutes a day. Even a small amount of time set aside reliably, every day, for mom or dad to do something chosen by a child can help that child manage stress at other points in the day. It’s a time for positive connection, without parental commands, ignoring any minor misbehavior, just attending to your child and letting her be in charge. It can help a child who’s having a tough time in school, for instance, to know she can look forward to that special time. “These five minutes of parental attention should not be contingent on good behavior,”. It’s a time, no matter what happened that day, to reinforce that ‘I love you no matter what.’