When it comes to parenting, consistency wins the race. Or at least maintains sanity. If you’re a parent of many children, it’s easy to watch consistency go out the window ten minutes after waking up. If you’re a single parent like myself, you lose your consistency some time while you sleep.
It’s a fact that it’s important for parents to have a consistent approach to things over time. Think about it? When I let the kids play games for an hour yesterday, but today I gave them fifteen minutes, how can I expect them to know what’s going on? I am not consistent.
Consistency is key to being a parent. As a parent, we can’t be “wishy-washy” about how we handle things. We can’t allow kids to do homework at bedtime Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday yell when they won’t do it right when they get home. Now we’re confusing them. And what does confusion lead to? Talking back and attitudes. It starts with us, and there are three ways to be a more consistent parent.
Step 1: Getting Started
First, you have to actually get started. And by this, I mean, create a system. Make a schedule. Be prepared. If you want the kids to do their homework right after school while they have an after-school snack, then it needs to be in the plan. It’s easy to read and type, but harder to do because fifteen-hundred things can and will happen that may mess with the plan you make. But, that’s why we’re making the plan. So we can be more consistent and fend off those things that pull us off plan.
Don’t forget to be fun while you’re making your plan. Children are just that: children. They aren’t employees. They don’t deserve to be ordered around or talked down to. Keep in mind that if you expect children to get on board, it has to appeal to them. The word “fun” means something different for everyone, and sometimes you cant’ be fun in your planning. When there is homework, dinner, a school concert and showers to get done before bedtime, it’s hard to fit in fun. Sometimes, the fun is in how you handle the day and your “plan”. For me, the fun is having children who know that no matter what, Dad is going to be reserved about whatever the situation is and not sprout a second head. Most of the time.
We have to reward and punish our children appropriately. We can’t punish our children the same way for everything, because not everything is as serious. Like we can’t reward good behavior the same all the time either. If we’re going to be consistent, we have to be fair at the same time. It’s easy to not be fair as a parent, but it doesn’t help our children understand consequence and reward.
Step 2: Implementing Your Plan
Next, you have to put in place your plan. That’s it. No union meeting on a Sunday after church is needed. We don’t have to gather our children for a lecture about why being consistent is important because right now, honestly, they don’t care. So just do it. Start being consistent immediately. Your consistency will turn into proper punishments and rewards and your children will catch on at their own pace.
Step 3: Be the Bad Guy. It’s OK
The old saying is “If your child hasn’t told you they hate you at least once a day, you’re not a good parent”. While I don’t agree with that statement, I do believe that as parents, we’re not here to make friends. We have to have boundaries, and our words have to be meaningful and consistent. I’ve used that word often, so if it seems important, it’s because it is. An actor I follow closely on Facebook by the name of Wentworth Miller recently said that he makes big decisions based on if he’ll be able to sleep at night after making it. I believe that should be a good, solid ground to start on when it comes to children as well. Say no if yes would cause you worry, guilt, or just simply not line up with your morals and the morals you are trying to instill in your children. Growing up, I was told no all the time. Now, when a parent says no they feel bad. Stop it. Be the bad guy to keep consistency.
I believe that children who are raised in a house where there is consistency will be more patient and rational when they grow up. The world could use some more patient, rational people, right?