Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedure (CAPP): How Parents and Grandparents Can Set Limits with Each Other about How they Parent and Grandparent

Calm/Assertive Procedures like this one give kids two choices and two choices only. Kids can either:

1. Be cooperative


2. Suffer the consequences of not being cooperative

Either way, we can be calm and empathetic because we do not allow this third option to exist:

3. Do whatever you want, develop bad behaviors, and become a person people don’t want to be around

The possibility of allowing choice C is what makes us angry, excitable, and sometimes irate because we love our kids and we know where kids who get to use choice C often end up.

Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedures like this one take into account all possible ways that kids will try to get to choice C. We stop those channels to C and reroute back to either choice A or B. We do this all without ever trying to control that which we cannot control.

Here We Go…

This CAPP is different from previous CAPPs because it is to be used for adults to calmly set and enforce healthy limits with each other, not with kids.

It is inevitable: grandparents will often have very different ways of interacting with kids than those kids’ parents have. It can be very difficult for both sets of adults to come to an agreement on how to handle kids in a variety of different situations because often the values that adults have as they relate to kids can be wildly different. This difficulty can be compounded by the existence of long-standing animosity between parents and their adult children stemming from resentment from the adult children’s early experiences in life. Painful and sometimes relationship-ending situations can develop from this dynamic.*

*Note: If parents and grandparents have the same or very similar outlooks on how to deal with children, or if you are trying to hold kids accountable by reading a book together (I love “Parenting with Love and Logic” ) or following my blog 😊,this CAPP is not for you. Work together as a team and stop reading this.

What Not to Do

Because trying to simultaneously hold kids accountable with wildly different value structures and methods is so difficult, toxic, or impossible, do not try to “mix” parenting styles and values together. Don’t try to “work as a team” with people who do things completely different than you insofar as kids are concerned.

What to Do: Setting the Limit

Let the other set of adults know that instead of trying to figure out how to blend two different ways of working with kids, you will be doing something different to set clearer limits with kids, and with each other, preserve adult relationships, and have more fun together as a family. Doing things this new way will allow each adult set to work with kids their way while minimizing conflict and respecting different value structures as they relate to kids.

Emphasize that neither adult set will criticize or say anything to the other adult set about their values or methods of parenting or grandparenting. One adult set will take the lead and completely own the management of the children throughout the entirety of that situation. How this is done is important. If parents are in the room from the outset of a time when behaviors are being managed, they will have exclusive domain over all limit setting for the children. They will be 100% responsible for their children’s behavior. Grandparents will have nothing to do with disciplining their grandchildren.

For example, when having dinner in public or in a dining room with all three generations, grandparents should situate themselves in a seating position whereby they can ignore children if need be, and enjoy their meal, and whereby parents can take the lead in parenting. To be clear: grandparents should have nothing to do with dealing with behaviors when parents are present from the outset of any family situation.

On the other hand, when grandparents are the only adult set present in a room or in a house at the outset of a behavior management situation, they become the ultimate and only disciplinary force in the lives of their grandchildren. If parents are in another room at the outset, or if they are not in the house or in the public area, they will have nothing to do with disciplining their child(ren).

If the adult sets can set limits with each other about who handles what and when, kids realize very quickly that the ultimate authority figures in their lives are the adult family member currently in front of them.

Remember, this CAPP has nothing to do with how to deal with negative behaviors from kids. If you are so inclined, feel free to go to my blog, if my work fits in with your value structure ( All this CAPP does is allow parents and grandparents clear, simple parameters about who deals with discipline.

Since this CAPP involves two sets of adults simultaneously and calmly setting limits with each other, share this CAPP with the other adult set. Discuss it and strategize for how to avoid possible problems.

What to Do: Intervention #1

Of course, this will take some time, and most adults will make the mistake of “jumping in” in a way that is not a part of your new plan. As a way to calmly remind the adults not to go outside of the boundaries already set up, if an adult accidentally takes the disciplinary lead when they should not, have a sound, word, or phrase that will cue the adult to kindly and calmly cease and desist on butting in when he or she shouldn’t, in accordance with your new plan. Some adults choose “Whoa, Nelly” or “Gadzooks” or even “White Sand Beach” to allow everyone’s brains to drift to a happier and less stressful place and time.

When the agreed-upon cue is used, it is just a signal to go back to the agreed-upon lane that we decided we would agree to stay in.

What to Do: Intervention #2

If an adult continues to try to be in charge of discipline even after the cue is given, only one phrase should be uttered:
“We can all remain together as long as we can follow our plan.”

That is the last and final intervention that should be given. If all adults don’t get back to the plan, any adult amongst the two adult sets can enforce the consequence.

What to Do: The Consequence

Initiate the consequence by saying the following script. Say the first two words slowly, with empathetic sadness:
“Oh, noooo. Ugh. We have to end our (day/night) together because we aren’t following the plan. We love you all so much. Let’s get back together soon.

Then, in silence, leave the house or public area. If you are part of the adult set who owns the home you are currently in, leave the room, and if you are the parents, take your offspring with you.

Doing these interventions exactly as described and then carrying out the consequence without adding any extra words tells all present that you have will enforce the limits that you set, and that you love your family too much to allow the existence of different value structures to hurt your relationship with those you love.

Better to be a bit uncomfortable for a moment than to be miserable every time you get together with your offspring!


If the legal guardians, usually the parents, become so offended by the actions of the other adult set (usually the grandparents) the legal guardians should go straight to consequences. They should take their children and leave wherever they are. If they are home, they should take their children to another room. Once children are removed, grandparents should be asked to leave.

If the tables are turned, and the non-legal guardians (usually the grandparents) are so offended by the actions of the legal guardians (usually the parents) the non-legal guardians should remove themselves from the location immediately.