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.

What are some ways you've been able to remove harshness from your parenting?

Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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  1. "If you're going to spank, spank. Don't spank with your tongue!" With 8 children it's an easy pull run my mouth more than being doers of the Word, this quote has helped.

  2. Having a firm structure that you stick by and make your children stick by. Structure keeps you honest.

    If you have kids clean their room and then they do anything else, that would keep all of you honest. Stick to structure!

  3. For a single parent it is crucial that you eliminate harshness in your tone and in your actions.

    Kids dealing with two different households need firm boundaries and they need to understand what you will accept in your home. If you are consistent each time, it won't be long before they learn how they need to act in your home. There is nothing you can do about goes on in the other home.

    As a single parent going it alone, parenting can get very stressful. It is very easy to slip into an angry harsh state of mind. But please stop, take a breath and even take a break for yourself if needed. When you are calm, go back and address the situation.

    Remember Joanne's words - talk less and be less emotional about the entire event / situation. Have your tool box of consequences prepared in advance. Post them on the refrigerator if needed.

    Your kids have enough to deal with. They don't need an irate, angry and irrational single parent taking their frustrations out on them. Calm down, structure and then nurture the kids in your single parent home.

  4. Being firm without harshness requires me to be focused on my goal for the boundary in the first place. If I truly believe in what I am requiring--if I truly believe it is in line with Godly principles and remember it is for His glory--I stay centered in Christ and act in His manner. When I make the boundary about 'me'--my frustration, my honor (even if it is in line with God's principles), I tend to be cranky & harsh in my implementation of structure.

  5. I aggree with Susana, kids crave structure and routine. Mine know that the 1st thing they are supposed to do is make thier bed and get dressed. When they follow the structure they get rewarded. For us the reward is simple, we use our video game system the kids get tickets for 15 minute increments of game time, it has pre-approved games and they can really only play so much time in a day, but it has become currency. In my house, while we did spank, it was ineffective, so the currency became crucial. On days when I'm dealing with poor attitudes, the game time is completely removed. Also, when they "blow me away" with goodness like cleaning without prompting, they get a special note of thanks from me.
    Last night, someone either my 7 year old or my 5 year old cleaned the bathroom without being asked before going to bed. I had not made my way there until after everyone had gone to bed. I stayed up and wrote thank you notes to the kids so they knew how grateful I was.