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March 8, 2014
Be Firm Without Being Harsh
Some parents believe that the only way to be firm is to be harsh. Firmness says that a boundary is secure and won’t be crossed without a consequence. Harshness uses angry words and increased volume to make children believe that parents mean what they say. Some parents have assumed that firmness and harshness must go together. One mom said, “The thought of separating the two is like listening to a foreign language—it sounds nice but doesn’t make any sense.”
How do you make the change? Two things will help you remove harshness from your interaction with your children: Dialogue less and show less emotion.
In an attempt to build relationship, some parents spend too much time dialoguing about instructions. They try to defend their words, persuade their children to do what they’re told, or logically explain the value of obeying. This is often counterproductive. Parents then resort to anger to end the discussion, complicating matters further.
“But,” one mom said, “I thought talking and showing emotion are signs of a healthy family, leading to closeness in family life.” And that is true when they are used in the right way. Unfortunately, when added to the instruction process, these two ingredients confuse children and don’t give them the clear boundaries they need. These are two good things, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Firmness requires action, not anger. Having a toolbox of consequences is important to help move children along in life. It’s not optional. Some parents use anger as their consequence. These parents need more tools that will help their children make lasting changes.
If you find yourself being harsh, take time to reevaluate your response. More action, less yelling can go a long way to bring about significant change.
This parenting tip is from the book, Say Goodbye the Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.