It is possible for children to be loving and kind, and strong and powerful at the same time. Whilst kindness shows children respect, firmness shows respect to ourselves and for the needs of the situation. Seeing these traits in their parents helps. Especially since parents can act like models by showing how to treat everyone with kindness. Whilst also holding strongly to who they are and their beliefs. Parents are not only the best teachers of their children, but they can also be the best teachers of empathy, manners, hospitality, and kind-heartedness.

Finding a balance between remaining calm and loving 

Finding a balance between remaining calm and loving whilst also being strong and courageous is not easy. Nonetheless, an important part of parenting involves teaching children to be kind and loving toward one another whilst being able to stand up for themselves and their beliefs. Given that parents should act like role models of the desired behaviour, they need to set an example for their children. In fact, parents need to be both kind and firm when relating with their children. Especially since this is essential for positive discipline. This certainly doesn’t mean becoming too permissive. As, sometimes, parents and teachers might find themselves making this mistake in order to avoid being punitive. 

Parents can be kind to their children in various ways other than pleasing them, rescuing them, or protecting them from all disappointment, as otherwise, they would be permissive, not kind. Parents can be kind by respecting themselves and their children without pampering them, and validating their feelings. They can survive disappointment by having faith and developing a sense of capability in the process. Instead of punishing children when they treat you disrespectfully, you can consider being kind and firm by leaving the room. Given that they might be struggling to treat you with respect, by walking away you are treating yourself with respect. As well as being a strong model for your children. Ideally, you also let your children know what you intend to do in advance, when you are both calm. As this is when you are thinking rationally and in a position to deal with a problem. 

Regarding firmness, this doesn’t equate to punishment. Although setting limits can keep children safe and socialised, these shouldn’t be enforced with punishment, lectures and control. This may lead to a power struggle. Instead, you might consider involving children when setting and enforcing limits. For instance, parents can brainstorm with their children what the limits should be for TV viewing, curfews, playtime away from home, or homework. Children can also be included in discussions to understand the importance of limits. This makes them more likely to follow limits that they have helped create.

When one parent is kind, and the other is firm, the tendency is that they are both being ineffective and they might end up fighting about who is right or wrong. In such cases, parents need to learn effective communication and one way of doing this is by having regular family meetings that enable them to brainstorm for solutions to problems and to choose the solutions that are respectful to everyone. By focusing on solutions, opposites are more likely to get closer together and be more supportive of each other and their children. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Johanna Cutajar is a Master in Counselling graduate from the University of Malta. She works with children and adolescents as a counsellor within the education sector on a variety of issues including relationship issues, trauma, bereavement, transitions, and general mental health.


Nelsen, J. (n.d.). Kindness and Firmness at the Same Time. Retrieved from