Being firm is an essentiality of the “Parenting With Love” approach.
“Parenting With Love”achieved impressive results and had a great impact on parents and children… Yet, some of our followers started to feel that “Parenting With Love” leaves them unable to resolve certain issues or to reform some behaviors that their children exhibit…
The truth is, we can ensure a deeper and a wider impact with love. However, “love” does not mean to be lenient and to talk softly and mildly all the time; for there are times when we need to be firm and when it is essential to resolve matters more seriously…So, whenever we notice that a child’s conduct is unbearable or is potentially dangerous; when we start feeling afraid or when we are tired of using nice words…; then instead of resorting to harshness and yelling because we feel that “Parenting With Love”won’t work and will be of no use with our children; we can resort to firmness and decisiveness. Love and “Parenting With Love” do not mean to accept the unacceptable,nor to be content with unsatisfactory behaviors. On the contrary, they mean that we express ourselves decently and that we communicate with the other (the child) in a respectable manner, in the presence of clear limits and rules.
We do explain, in details, the methods and the skills needed to be firm in “Parenting With Love “courses. However, I will explain to you, here, how to be firm and decisive, how to implement firmness at home; as well as how to come to results that are satisfactory for both parties… What parents do not expect is that clear limits and boundaries give children a sense of comfort and provide a chance for better compliance from the children.
Certain matters that require a firm stand include: bed time, school work, prayer, respect among siblings etc.
In order to be firm we must:
First: refrain fromusing words like” honey”, “darling”,“please”, “kindly”and “if you do not mind”… These words give the child the impression that he/she can reject the request if it does not suit them… (Yet, they are wonderful words if we use them to ask children for a personal favor; then you can say “Please, bring me my cell phone/ close the door/ fetch me a glass of water or find the remote…). But, in case you want the child to carry on a dutyor an obligation, totally abstain from using such words.
Second:use brief sentences, clear requests and objectives…
Example: ”It is now 8:30… You have half an hour, after which I expect you to be in bed… You know what you have to do before you go to bed…”
Use the previous words instead of “Come on dear, go to bed. Good boy… You are my sweet heart. God bless you, we need to sleep to get some rest and be healthy…and I want you to clean your teeth, change…and …and “
Third: if the child defies the order given to him/her; do not run after them, call for them loudly, nor threaten or warn them… Simply, walk to the child, make sure to have eye-contact with him\ her by going down to their level… and say… “Did you hear me? What did I ask you to do?” Give the child a chance to reply. If the child responds “It is bed time and I must get ready”… praise the child and say “Well done… There you are listening very well to me, that is what I know my child to be; a good listener… Do you need help or you know where your pajamas are?”
Fourth: if the child repeats the same behavior and does not comply, come close to the child and speak to him/her with a very serious face – your facial expressions should not imply anger orshow frowns. Also, use a firm voice -a firm voice is a little higher than the normal voice but is quieter than an angry voice… The tone of the voice should be stronger than it is when we are being kind and less than it is when we are giving a threat…Firmly say “Now is bedtime… To your bed now…” If the child had a toy or an iPad in their hand, grab it gently but seriously and say “Playing is over… Goodnight.”
If you did not use firmness with your children before; then it is normal for a 7- year-old or someone older to resist, to say some angry words or to kick their legs in the air… At that time, do not speak or comment at all…Instead,use body language and miming gestures….Stand up, for instance, and point to the bedroom… Or make a “no”gesture (meaning playing is not acceptable)..,or point to your mouth (meaning stop talking)
Afterwards, completely drop the subject… Observe from a distance. If the child went to bed and had listened to what you said; you can praise him/her the next day. However, in this case a child should not be rewarded because going to bed is a normal daily duty… It is sufficient to say something like”You managed to stop playing and to be in bed on time, this shows that you are a person who is in control of him\herself and can accomplish tasks assigned to him\her!! Your cooperation made me happy and I was able to sleep on time and to rest…”
If the child did not go to bed and stayed up way too late, that you were upset and troubled… You should not bring the subject up… You can, however, take more than one measure…. You can first of all, repeat all the previous steps for a number of days until the child realizes that the matter is inevitable.
If the child does not comply after several attempts; you can send him/her to bed at 7:30 instead of 8 because they did not comply. Or they may not be allowed to read a bed time story because the story time was up…You can cancel an arrangement to go somewhere together; and when they ask why the arrangement was cancelled, you could tell them that “(You) did not get enough sleep because of staying up late, and that “(you) cannot do anything today because “(you) are tired”… And then say no more nor blame the child. They will recalculate their actions,reconsider the situation and will learn how to amend their mistakes….
Firmness can also be appliedto any other matter.We can do little tweaks to the steps depending on the situation and the age of the child.
To put it in a nutshell, one of the main discipline strategies in “Parenting With Love”is being firm and decisive, because a child lives happier and is more stable when there is transparency in the way they are treated, when there are clear regulations, fixed limits and consequences that teach children to correct their mistakes; but without hurting them or making them feel dejected or mistreated.