Building consistency as a parent

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When it comes to investing in real estate, we know it’s all about location, location, location, but if you want to invest in your kids - we need to think about… consistency, consistency, consistency!

Probably the hardest thing for us as people (yet alone parents!) is being consistent.  We have all sorts of intentions to respond the same way in all sorts of circumstances… to be cool, calm and collected.  Sounds great doesn’t it? 

But of course we are emotional creatures and more often than not, we are driven by feelings and moods.  Parenting is one of the most important areas in our lives to have consistency. This is because we are dealing with people (kids) who are developing their whole view of life and how to respond to it, by learning from us.  What a scary thought!

I find that consistency is most important in:

1.      Maintaining boundaries

2.      The agreement and unity between parents (if there are two parents).  Agreeing about the approach to a situation, especially in front of the kids

3.      Your responses day-to-day.  If you reprimand your child one day for doing something wrong, be committed to reprimanding them every day until the behaviour is curbed!

Ouch… is that even possible?  Well it is, but it certainly isn’t easy and of course, requires a lot of hard work and discipline.  But trust me - the work is worth it!  It will save you an immense amount of pain and suffering as well as time and effort down the line.

Consistency in maintaining boundaries

The first arena that demands our consistent approach is the setting and maintenance of a boundary. 

We have found over the years, that as our kids introduced us to new behavioural challenges, we needed to figure out a plan of action (dare I say a plan of attack).  We also needed the perseverance to see it through. 

When you embark upon a course of action that you as a parent or you as a couple believe is right… be consistent until you see the result.  You could quite possibly see a positive outcome more quickly than you think!

Consistency in agreement

The second arena needing consistency is the agreement of the parents.  If the direction, discipline or response of the two parents is not in agreement, not only will it lead to parental conflict, but it will also cause confusion in the child as well as be ineffective in the development of the child’s behaviour.

It is not always the case, however, that both parents automatically agree on their approach to their child’s behaviour and what to do about it.  So it’s important that you get together and agree on the ‘big rocks’ – the basic approach to your parenting philosophy. 

Try and read the same material and come to a common conclusion about how you will approach the issues of boundary setting, and how to enforce those boundaries.  This is certainly not an easy task, but the effort it takes is so beneficial for your effectiveness (and sanity!) as parents.

And most importantly, in the ‘moment’ of interacting with your child, avoid disagreeing with your spouse on the approach.  This renders the moment ineffective and confuses the child.  It also erodes the sense of healthy authority that you have as parents.  (It goes without saying that there are sometimes exceptions to this principle…especially when a child’s safety is at risk)

 

A ‘unified’ effort of dealing with a child creates a wonderful sense of unity, reinforces the authority of the parents and greatly increases the effectiveness of the moment.

 

Consistent responses day-to-day

The third thing that can help parents is being consistent day-to-day.  If you correct your child for one thing one day, and the next day there are no consequences (maybe because you’re in a good mood) it will once again confuse the child and render your attempts to curb behaviour as ineffective. 

It’s important to be (almost monotonously) consistent with your response.  This brings security to your child and also quickens the behaviour change gap – the length of time between when you started the approach to the child on any given behaviour and when it changes.  If a child understands that you aren’t changing your approach, he eventually yields to the consistent approach. 

Consistency wins every time and develops calm and secure children.  In raising children it’s the things you do most consistently that ultimately shape your kids.  Bringing consistency into these areas will require time, patience and commitment, but trust me – it’s worth it!

Blessings to you and your child raising adventures!

The one minute parent