Every parent wishes to raise their children in a happy and secure environment, hoping that they will eventually grow up to be responsible and well-adjusted. Children take time to adapt to the adult world and all the rules and regulations that come with it. As a parent, if you want your children to be well behaved, responsible and caring, the first and most important part of that job begins with you. A good parent is a consistent one. By consistent, I mean being reliable.
How Inconsistency Affects a Child
You can best understand how consistency affects a child by reviewing what inconsistency does in its place. Children are sweet but decidedly much smarter than we give them credit for. They know when they can bend the rules. They know that throwing a tantrum when you are tired will make you give in.
They know that they will get that extra piece of candy if they pull a sad face or cry nonstop. They know that you are reading a book or watching a TV show and are too busy to notice what they are up to, which means that they can get up to plenty of naughty things and get away with it.
Why Consistency is Important in Disciplining a Child
Consistency in parenting plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s perceptions and provides direction to make the right choices as he/she grows older. If you, as a parent, are unrelenting and firm about how certain things should be, your child will eventually stop fighting back and will begin to respond to the familiarity of your actions and words. Disciplining will largely cease to be a tug-o-war. Being consistent helps your children in the following ways:
Consistency Helps Children Understand
Children do not have an adult’s vocabulary or our sense of right and wrong, so getting into long explanations will only confuse them. By beginning with a few age-appropriate rules and gradually adding on one or two at a time, your child will learn that there are certain things everyone needs to do in order to truly enjoy being a part of the family.
For instance, children understand routine and often take comfort in doing the same things over and over again. This gives them a sense of accomplishment, especially in being able to do things on their own and without being told.For instance, your son scatters his toys all over the living room while playing and soon it is time for bed. He knows he needs to put everything back into his toy chest before he goes to sleep.
The first 50 times, you will hear yourself firmly asking him to clean up. He may resist or completely ignore you. However, in time, he will learn that by putting his toys away, he keeps you happy and his play area ready for a fresh round of fun and games.
Your Child Knows You Mean Business
There is no room for misinterpreting Mummy’s request. If it is something you have already told your child several times over, he/she is unlikely to ignore you. Children understand that Mummy and Daddy mean business and certain behavior is a complete no-no. The outcome of it will be no more asking or persuading because your child knows what is expected of him/her and is likely to just follow through with it.
Your kids will learn to avoid conflict and respond to requests willingly, especially if you reward good behavior as often as possible. Children are quick to equate rewards with positive responses so watch out for when they are on their best behavior and applaud them.
Consistency Reinforces Good Behavior
Children look to their parents for security and stability. This natural tendency shows that they too, expect a particular behavioral pattern. Parents need to understand that they are the most influential figures in their children’s lives.Being unchanging while disciplining or rewarding negative or positive behavior respectively, helps a child take rules more seriously. By being a consistent parent, you are reinforcing good behavior in your children – By setting an example, By following through with what you say i.e. by being firm and clear.
If it is bedtime, then you need to let your child know that he/she should start getting ready for bed. If he/she throws a tantrum, simply do not give in. Distract him/her by offering to read a favorite story or singing some fun songs. Keep the disciplining process firm and not harsh. In time, the rules will cease to be rules but will become part of their daily routine.