The best parents are consistent parents. If you want to raise up children who have a good grasp on their emotions, who know how to stick to a plan and reach a goal and who have self-control then you’re going to have to demonstrate those qualities as well. In order to become a consistent parent it takes some thought and effort.
Talk With Your Spouse
The parents are supposed to be a united front to help the children know where the buck stops. If parents aren’t on the same page, your sweet innocent children will use you against each other. They’ll use the old tried and true divide and conquer technique used for generations on unsuspecting parents.
Have Regular Family Meetings
Once the parents have talked and worked out a plan then it’s time to bring the children in on the meeting. Children at even very young ages can understand the concept of family unity and a family meeting. Let them feel as if they have a say from a young age, and then give them more say as they get older. Children can often choose consequences to behavior that will work better than whatever you come up with so giving children a choice will improve the results.
Set Realistic Consequences
As mentioned above children often pick better consequences than parents, this is because sometimes parents choose either too difficult of consequences that they have a hard time sticking to, or they pick those that are too simple. The punishment or consequence should have something to do with the action and not arbitrary.
When the children are in the meeting, make sure that they understand what your goals are, what your expectations are, and what each consequence is. Have the children repeat these things back to you so that you know that they understand. Some parents even employ a contract, that they have the children read out loud and sign. This can help with your own consistency as well as ensuring the children understand.
Once you’ve decided as a family the issues, actions and consequences it’s important to follow through. If you follow through, without yelling, without anything but matter-of-fact — this is the result of your action — emotion it won’t take many times before a child knows not to push too far and knows that you will do what you say you’ll do.
Children will test you, they’ll try to see if you really will follow through on your promises. They will need to face the consequences of their actions. When they test you, answer the test swiftly. The more consistent you are, the less children will test you. Studies show that consistency more than any particular form of discipline works the best to keep children on the path you want them to be on.
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