[Part 2] Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (2)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority. Go back to PART ONE to read a “kind but firm” approach to parenting.

Introspection: What’s going on under the surface?

There is almost always more going on in habitual conflicts than meets the eye, and it could be your kids know that in spite of your firm approach, you are still not feeling confident and resolved about your own authority.

Parenting is rooted in a combination of personality, experiences, and beliefs about our kids and ourselves as parents. Turning a few stones of self-awareness has proven to be helpful to many parents stuck in negative patterns.

If any of these issues (or others you identify) cause you to feel timid when trying to discipline, this isn’t a “stand tall and go get ‘em” lecture! It’s an encouragement to access God’s grace and truth for you and your kids. Below you’ll see some hurtful beliefs with which you might identify, and some helpful truths that you could use to replace them.

Underlying Issue or Emotion: Family History

Hurtful Belief:
* I believe strong authority is hurtful because of the poor example of my own strict or harsh parents.
* My parents were disengaged or passive and I had no example of confident, engaged authority.

Helpful Truth:
* I can carve a different path than my parents, and learn to be kind and firm, which my child really needs.

Underlying Issue or Emotion: Anxiety about conflict

Hurtful Belief:
* I believe that conflict is bad, or that it means my child doesn’t love me.
* I find myself doing whatever I need to do to avoid my child’s displeasure or rejection.

Helpful Truth:
* Conflict is a normal part of life and healthy relationships.
* I don’t need my kids’ constant approval to be ok.
* Standing firm when my child needs it will gradually earn his or her respect.

Underlying Issue or Emotion: Misguided compassion

Hurtful Belief:
* I am deeply sensitive and compassionate, and believe, “I hate to cause my child distress by giving a consequence.”
* I may reduce expectations and avoid giving needed consequences, because my child has special circumstances (i.e. learning disability, anxiety, ADD, family stress or divorce).

Helpful Truth:
* I want my compassion to truly help my kids, not hinder them.
* My kids need to be prepared to accept the boundaries and consequences life will give them.

Underlying Issue or Emotion: Shame

Hurtful Belief:
* I don’t feel worth listening to. I sometime think, or even say out loud, “You never listen to me,” as if to declare, “I’m inadequate to parent you. You will always disregard what I say.”

Helpful Truth:
* Parenting my child with authority is a God-given calling.
* God will grow me strong enough to fulfill the calling He has given me.

Underlying Issue or Emotion: Fear

Hurtful Belief:
* My intense child holds me hostage with explosive behavior.
* I often believe, “I can’t endure another meltdown.”
* I walk on eggshells and give in just to avoid setting off another episode.

Helpful Truth:
* Giving in to meltdowns fertilizes them. In all circumstances God gives me strength.
* As I stay strong and calmly avoid giving in to my child’s demands, they will lessen over time.

What corresponding helpful truth is empowering to you? You can alter wording as needed so that you relate to it strongly, or ask God to show you a very personal truth to strengthen you. Which of these hurtful beliefs resonates most with you?

Whatever truths stand out to you, write them down
and keep them visible until they grow your confidence.

You may recognize your need is simply a “kind but firm” approach to setting limits, or a deeper dive below the surface of your heart. Either way, you can trust God to grow you in your confident authority.

2 Timothy 1:7 promises us, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” You love your child! That determined love will help you stand on your God-given identity as “called and capable.” Be encouraged. You can learn to give your child guidance and limits that will ultimately build both trust in your relationship and respect for authority that he or she will need in life.

This post is part of a series giving an overview of our Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart principles.

Take 10 to 15 minutes to find out your strengths and challenges with our free parenting assessment.

Parenting Strengths Social Media (2) (1)

[Part 1] Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting


Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (1)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority.

Have you heard yourself say these things?
…That is not ok, do you understand me? How many times do I have to tell you?
…If you finish your chores, I’ll get you a bowl of ice cream.
…Ok, I’ll let this go this time, but next time there will be a big consequence.
…My child never listens to me!  

If you often find yourself backing down or offering bribes when you feel you should stand firm, you’re not alone! Taking charge of this dynamic requires more than just a, “Be the parent – don’t give in so easily” mindset. If it was that simple, you wouldn’t still be questioning yourself.

Consider a couple strategies to help you develop the loving authority your kids need:

A “kind but firm” approach: empathize and give clear choices
Use a calm and respectful tone when you address your kids, and let them know you understand what it’s like to be them. Then offer two “you can…” choices with a clear boundary. This combination might look like this:

“I know you are tired after school and love to relax and play, I often feel that way after work. So you can choose to get your chore out of the way and then play, or you can play now and do your chore before dinner. But it must be done when you come to dinner.”

If they give more pushback, give more empathy, but don’t change the request. No deals.

[If you would like more details about consequences, check out the in-depth appendix of our book Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart.]

If this sort of approach is new to your kids, they may fight it before they understand that you won’t change your mind. Stay calm and just let them know repeatedly that you understand but you won’t be hooked by their emotional drama, and your boundaries are firm. Once kids sense your confidence, they are far more likely to respect your authority.

When “kind and firm” doesn’t work, or your child doesn’t respond, it could be worth a look beneath the surface.

Read PART TWO for more introspection and thoughtfulness about how to stand in strong authority when your kids need it.

This post is part of a series giving an overview of our Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart principles.

Take 10 to 15 minutes to find out your strengths and challenges with our free parenting assessment.

Parenting Strengths Social Media (2) (1)

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior…

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior

The rough-looking teen’s tough veneer had softened. I detected tears in his eyes.

“No one has ever said anything like that to me.”

Just minutes before, I met this teen in a line at our local amusement park. After a brief conversation, I dug a little deeper and asked Jared what he was good at. “Are you kidding?” He seemed angry. “Look at me.” Violent tattoos, tattered dark clothes, a defiant countenance and multiple piercings on his ears, nose, eyebrows and lips were suggestive of a hard life.

The Powerful Role of Empathy in Discipline

The Powerful Role of Empathy in DisciplineCould it be that one of the main reasons Jesus is so appealing to us, a reason we want to follow him, is that we see throughout scripture that he “gets” people?

He knows us. He understands us. He meets us where we are. Hebrews 4:15 essentially tells us that we have a high priest (Jesus) who empathizes with our every weakness. Following in Jesus’ example, we represent his character to our kids when we empathize with them in their weaknesses.

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your Temper

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your TemperDisciplining misbehaving kids is often a difficult and emotion-laden task. Our oldest son Daniel, sometimes said to Lynne, “Mom, you just bursted all over us!” And he was painfully right. Jim had his share of quick, harsh reactions as well. Those were discouraging times for all of us, and we wished we knew how to get unstuck from that negative pattern.

We began applying our professional knowledge to develop practical strategies that helped us become calmer and more effective when disciplining. As we “field-tested” these ideas in our own family, we were equipped to help thousands of parents defuse their explosive reactions as well.

Parents who learn to calm themselves before disciplining usually find they are much more effective as they access their wisdom and good intentions for their kids. We suggest that parents stop, breathe, and get perspective. But what does that look like? Here are six practical ways to “get perspective” as you calm your heart for discipline that connects with your child’s heart.

Are You An Emotionally Safe Parent?

Are You an Emotionally Safe Parent-A friend of ours said, “I am so competent at work and with friends. I’m on my game almost all the time. But when my kids act up, it’s like I lose the ‘real me!’ I become someone I don’t know or like.” Virtually every parent we’ve talked with in any depth admits, “I don’t like the ‘me’ that comes out when I discipline my kids.”

The tough truth to swallow is that whatever comes out of us IS the “real me.” Kids provoke us. And when we’re provoked, we tend to reveal what’s really inside us – especially when the provocateurs are our very own little children. What’s revealed is often not a pretty picture as stressed parents feel desperate, and use intimidation, manipulation and anger to regain a sense of control in the situation. Although this may work temporarily, it does so at the expense of the parent-child relationship.

When anger, anxiety and a need to control drive our discipline, we unintentionally communicate to our children that we are not emotionally safe. They will self-protect by closing their hearts to us.

Practical Help for Families Struggling with Separation Anxiety

Practical Help for Families Struggling with Separation Anxiety

“Nooooo, Mommy, Noooooo! Don’t GO!” screams the little fighting octopus fastened to your legs. It can be heart wrenching and embarrassing to pry your child away from you, and inconvenient when you’ve got a time constraint. (Why is my child the only one who gets hysterical every time we try to leave childcare to go to the church service?)

I have coached numerous parents of kids with separation anxiety, and there seems to be patterns of common underlying issues that feed this challenge:

  • A child’s sensory sensitivities can make busy or less familiar environments over-stimulating, or just generally increase a child’s anxiety.
  • Family stress – A chaotic family schedule or outside source of stress creates insecurity and hinders quality, joy-filled attention from a parent.
  • Parents’ anxiety or guilt about their child’s distress during separation inadvertently sends a message expressed through non-verbals that, “You should be upset. I’m doing a terrible thing by leaving you!”

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard

Three research based tips when you feel stuck

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard (1)Happy New Year! Whether you’ve just found us or we’re old friends, we are excited to journey with you through 2017.

We still remember our early days of feeling stuck in our parenting challenges, unhealthy dynamics, and hurtful habits. So we’re passionate to help all parents who feel that same way! As you think about the year ahead, and plans or resolutions you’re making for a better future, we want to help you with three principles adapted from a research based book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath.

1. Launch from your successes!
Trying to “fix” your failures can cause discouragement that makes change difficult. Focusing on what goes well in your home is a great way to start positive change because you are building on a skill you already know. Looking back on the past year, ask yourself these questions:

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts in 2016!

Top 10 of 2016

We are so honored to serve you and equip you in your parenting journey. Thank you for trusting us! We always welcome your feedback and stories from how you are integrating our resources into your family. We pray there is a little something for all of you to challenge and encourage you every time you read our content.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts of 2016!*

10. Don’t Punish Your Child’s Nervous System – Understand It!

9. Can Family Meetings Really Work?

8. 12 Misbehaviors and the God-Given Gifts Behind Them

7. An Open Letter to the Cincinnati Zoo Mom

6. How I Got My Kids to Obey Immediately…and Why I Stopped

5. When Kids Want it NOW!

4. The New Problem of Entitlement

3. Restitution Consequences

2. Your Kids: Responsible or Spoiled?

1. How a Pipecleaner Can Stop Your Child’s Meltdowns!

*In descending order, based on number of page views on our website.

Christmas… “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?

7 Simple Ideas to Protect the Joy of the Season

Christmas…Like the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” While we cherish meaningful time with those dearest to us, these highly charged celebrations often stress parents, over-stimulate children, and incline both to volatile behavior. Seven simple ideas will protect the Joy of the Season, and minimize the likelihood of holiday meltdowns and conflicts. These ideas are anchored in the principle that we all behave better when we feel better! After reading through, choose one or two options that fit your family and focus on them this year.

Copy of Three Secret Ingredients

Anchor the season in perspective.
Christmas is about God’s greatest gift to humans – his son Jesus Christ. This gets all too easily lost in our cultural expression of the holiday. Of all the Christmas preparation, what might not really need to be done? What would it take to build a few extra minutes into each day for rest, prayer, or meditation to delight in the eternal Savior who came to earth to reveal God to us? What’s one simple thing you could do to help your kids enter into this with you? Write your ideas in the comments section to inspire and connect with others!