Being consistent is very important as a parent. What our kids need to know is what to expect if they present us with a certain kind of behaviour. Kids should know without a shadow of a doubt what our reaction will be, every time. Good parents will react in the same way to the same problem.
This helps our kids understand and in turn make an educated decision, perhaps about whether it is worth mucking up. For instance, if your child cam home late from school and you grounded them for a week, they would most likely think very long and hard about whether to repeat the behaviour, due to the steep consequence. When we are consistent we actually help our kids to behave.
Most parents are not consistent in what they do, and need to work on things in order to make life easier for our kids. And that’s what our job is, to help make life easier for our kids. The end result we want is for them to become well equipped to face life as an adult one day. But in order to do this we need to train our kids up to do things the right way.
Most times when children misbehave it is because they want to test to see if you will remain firm in your boundaries. Kids actually feel relieved when we do stick to our agreed upon boundaries. They feel secure when they know what things are going to be like. And the thing is that when we change the rules without letting the kids know we bring trouble upon ourselves.
Kids get confused when we move the boundaries and that’s when things go wrong. I can give you an example: I do not allow my daughter to have friends sleepover on a Sunday evening because she has school the next day. But one evening she had a friend over and she begged me to change my mind just once. I gave in and said OK, against my better judgment. Actually I somehow managed to justify it in my mind.
That was fine until the next weekend when the same thing happened. This time it was harder to say no to her. Once again the next week she asked me and now she asks me nearly every single Sunday night. I am still paying the price for not sticking to my boundaries. The problem is that I said yes just once and now my daughter is wondering when I am going to say yes just once more. I have blown it with that boundary and it is totally my fault.
When we go back on a boundary we will experience the repercussions for weeks after the fact. It’s not just a once off occurrence because the kids will pick up on the inconsistencies and bombard you like never before. And it’s your own fault when that happens. And it’s much harder to go back and rectify things. It is much better not to go there in the first place.
Next time your child tries to push a boundary, remember that all kids push boundaries and they do it because they actually want to know that you won’t waver in them. So do your child a favour today and stick to your boundaries and practice consistency in your parenting.
Kim Patrick is a single mum with four children who lives on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. She is a parent coach, seminar speaker and author of the book “Get Your Child To Behave In 30 Days Or Less”. Kim also created the “Sleeping Angels” CD series, aimed at facilitating a behavioral change in children while they are sleeping. Her web site is http://www.mychildcanbehave.com