Consistency, Discipline, Accountability, and lots of Love are essential ingredients in parenting. If you lack any of them, everything destabilizes; and the result of it can be a disaster. Like every other task, parenting requires a perfect balance. Any imbalance and your methods will fail. Think about this; you want your child to do the house chores but are not consistently making them accountable. Your child is used to doing it whenever he/she feels like it, and whenever he/she decides not to do the chores, there are no consequences due to his/her lack of respect. What do you think would happen? Your child will get used to getting his/her way and eventually will stop doing the chores because he/she acknowledges nothing will happen if he/she stops doing them. Sadly, this happens more often than you think. Who is at fault? The fault falls on the parents when they lack consistency, discipline, and accountability because they let their children get away with their disrespect.
To foster a sense of safety in our children, we must be consistent and establish clear boundaries and expectations. According to many behavioral health professionals, we must be firm about the rules and consequences we set for our children. Our words gain power when backed by our actions. In other words, we must refuse to give our child frequent chances when he/she breaks a rule. When we give in, we teach our children that they need to push harder next time if they want what they want. Be consistent, and do not let them manipulate the situation.
Teaching your child self-control and consequences is part of discipline. If your children learn about consequences, they will learn to assume responsibility for their behavior. But for that process to occur, we need to make them accountable for their acts. We need to teach them that every action has a consequence, good or bad, and they need to accept the consequences of their acts whenever they misbehave or disobey us.
I know from experience that being consistent is not an easy task, so aware of how difficult it is, I will share some tips I researched from behavioral health professionals that would help you maintain structure and consistency with your children. These are the tips:
Both parents must be on the same page and respond similarly to poor behavior, implementing the same structure and discipline for specific behaviors.
Children learn early on to pit one parent against the other when they vary in their standards or if they observe poor communication between them.
Pick a few priority behaviors to start with and implement a consistent response.
Have a family meeting and involve the children in determining the consequences of specific behaviors. (“sitting at the table,” which is a clear task, versus “behaving at dinner,” which is too broad). This interaction will help them know and follow the rules because they know what the consequences are.
Start routines! Routines help in so many ways. They:
Eliminate power struggles.
Give your children a sense of security and develop self-discipline.
Help them get on a schedule.
Help them learn the concept of looking forward to things they enjoy. Teach them that there are things in life that we need to do even when we do not like them because they are necessary.
Help parents maintain consistency in expectations.
Choose action over talking.
Your child must know your expectations, and you must act when they do not follow the rules. When you back up your words with actions, your words become meaningful and powerful!
Explain the preferred behavior to your children and teens and ensure they understand your expectations.
You must be aware of this; if you get amused by your child’s naughty behavior, try not to show it on your face, or your child might think you are in approval of their behavior.
Children thrive under consistent routines, but they can handle the occasional change in routine. For example: eating at the table every day with the occasional ‘treat’ of eating in front of the TV.
Make sure you’re not expecting too much from a young child. For example, it is normal for young toddlers to make a mess while eating because motor control and table manners take time to master. Young children cannot sit at the table for long periods and often need to eat much earlier than the family is used to having their evening meal.
It is not the best approach, but if you must make threats, you must make sure they are reasonable to carry them out. Generally, threats show our frustration as parents or caregivers and are not a positive way to encourage the behavior we want in children.
Do not recur to violence; this worsens things and can promote the opposite response from what you want from your child.
As you can see, it can be difficult but not impossible. We hope these tips help, but if you try these tips and still struggle, do not hesitate to contact us. We have excellent resources to help you in this area.