Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedure (CAPP): Raising a Resilient Kid



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


  1. Be cooperative




  1. 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:


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


The possibility of allowing choice Cis 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 Cand 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…


Are kids pretty good at figuring out what gets them attention? Are they more likely to repeat, explore and heighten behaviors that get them what they want?


Have you also noticed that very often, girls act like big wimps? Have you noticed that they act this way more than boys do?


Before you fire off an angry email to me, please note that I did not say that girls ARE big wimps. They’re not. There is nothing definitive scientifically that shows that women biologically have a lower pain threshold or a lower pain tolerance than men. However, because most parents react very differently to small injuries to girls than they do to boys, males end up reportingslightly higher pain tolerance and thresholds, especially when the person asking is female. Translation: males often learn that being tough is a good thing and gets them what they want.


So as not to leave out boys who act like wimps, there are plenty of them too.


Regardless of what gender child you are dealing with, this CAPP is all about training your kid to be able to withstand bumps and bruises. It is also a way forparents tosend the implicit message to their kids that you think they are tough, that they can handle difficult situations, and that you love them.


Of course, we don’t want to ignore real medical emergencies, but on the other hand, it becomes significantly more difficult to discern what is or is not an emergency if you have accidentally trained your kid to act like they have been mauled by a bear every time they get a scratch. Use your best judgement and get medical help when necessary! This CAPP is only for what to do when a kid gets an injury that does not require professional medical attention.


What Not to Do

Do not react with emotion or panic. This one seems obvious, and if you have to be told this, or if you are emotionally unable to do this, the rest of this CAPP may not be for you.


Do not yell or carry the child away.


Do not run to your kid.


Do not immediately abandon what you are doing.


Do not tell them to stop crying.


This CAPP is a little different than what you are used to. The primary goal of all CAPPs is to train kids to exhibit a positive behavior when before they were exhibiting negative ones. This is still true here, but nearly as important is the message that you are sending to your child about his or her efficacy.All of the above reactions say to your kid that you think that they can’t handle adversity, you have to take care of this for them, and that a little scratch is a big deal. You define the reality and if you react in any of the above ways, think about the reality you have defined: that a tiny injury is a huge deal and that your kid can’t handle anything. This is very scary reality indeed. By creating this reality for your kid, they might become legitimately scared. Whether they are really scared by the crazy reality that you have created for them, or if they are trying to get attention, you need to change the reality.


What to Do: Setting the Limit

This CAPP is a little different in that the “limit” really is more of a limit on yourself and how you allow yourself to react.

When your kid falls, runs into something, or gets bonked, exclaim, “Whammo!”

If you are in the immediate area of your kid, you can pick them up and put them on their feet. Do not acknowledge crying. If you are a distance from your kid, take a moment, and slowly walk over to your kid and put him on his feet if he has been knocked down. The message here is “When we get knocked down, we get back up!”

If the kid draws attention to a new bump or scratch, you can say, “Oh, dear. What are you going to do now?” Implied message: “I love you, and you can handle this!” After a quick hug and a kiss, send him right back to the playground.

You can help with any first aid necessary, but only help with things that your kid is not physically capable of doing. Bandages are particularly difficult to put on your own arms, for example. Do not think, “He’s hurt, I need to do this for him.” No, you don’t.

What to Do: The Consequence

If you use this CAPP from early on, you should rarely or never have to consequence overly dramatic behaviors as a result of a minor injury. If you are applying this CAPP to a kid who you have trained to meltdown over bumps or bruises, you will need to do this over and over before the behavior will stop. Remember that behaviors will tend to get worse before they get better when you are doing the right thing.

If your kid freaks out in public over an injury and won’t stop after you have used the interventions described, simply take him home. In the middle of shopping? It doesn’t matter. Training your kid in this way is more valuable than getting your groceries today. Come back later to get them. Pick him up if he is small enough to carry. Don’t lecture. Don’t use anger. Just leave. Sing a song if that can help you to stop yourself from saying something you will regret later.

If at home, simply walk away from the child having the tantrum. If he follows, lock yourself in your room. You can add, “I’d be happy to be with you once you are calm.”

When in doubt, just think: “I love you… and I know you can get through this!”



Of course, make sure that your kid isn’t actually hurt. If you did not see the possible injury, be empathetic and do your investigation into the injury and proceed appropriately. If you gather that the injury is not serious, jump right back into the CAPP.

Be sure to have a great time playing and/or give lots of positive attention when things are going well.

When dealing with a serious injury, or any injury that needs medical attention, say the message you want to get through to them: “I love you… and I know you can get through this!”  This works great for shots at the doctor as well!