Kind and Firm
"The proper way of training children is identical with the proper way of treating fellow human beings." -Rudolf Dreikurs.
Too often, we assume firmness means punishment, disciplining harshly, lecturing or some form of punitive control. We tend to associate kindness with permissiveness. While kindness is important to show respect for the child, firmness is essential in order to show respect for ourselves and for the needs of the situation. When the parenting approach is Kind AND Firm, there is so much respect all around! This approach is at the heart of Positive Discipline.
Many of us have difficulty with being "kind AND firm". We definitely don't feel like being kind, when a child is pushing limits. Some believe they are being kind, when they pamper the child or protect them from disappointments. We tend to mix up being punitive with being firm and try to become too permissive, in order to not be punitive, in an attempt to be kind. It's a vicious cycle!
Let's take an everyday scenario of the child being disrespectful, because the parent has set limits for TV viewing. It is not kind to allow the child to treat you disrespectfully. Punishment is also disrespectful. One kind and firm action to do right away is to walk away. Following up later and expressing concern, when everyone has had a chance to calm down - is just one 'kind and firm' way. Let's also consider the purpose of limits. When it's the parent's job to set limits, ensure it's followed, and enforce with lectures, punishment and control, it invites only power struggles. Instead, when the child is involved in setting the limits and the whole brainstorming around this, they feel empowered. Of course, this depends on the age of the kid and their ability to understand such discussions, but limits can still be set following the Kind And Firm approach of Positive Discipline.
Other points to bear in mind are - 1) It is not a good idea to deal with the problem in the heat of the moment. 2) Brainstorming solutions and discussing not-so-good behavior, away from the time of the problem. 3) Remembering not to lecture and avoiding punishment, whatever happens. 4) Lots of encouragement. 5) Following up with other Positive Discipline tools - all these help increase respect and cooperation.