I have a wonderful mom. I really do. She raised eight children to be outstanding citizens in the world. Many of us are parents as well. I’m the oldest of the eight. My parents are very involved in my children’s lives since they only live a block away – but they are very careful not to “meddle” with my husband and my parenting decisions. But, on one occasion years ago she very gently and nervously took me aside and told me she was going to give me one piece of parenting advice and that was it.
I was nervous to hear the advice. What could be the one, most important thing I should know as a parent?
She said I need to be consistent. Yep. That’s it. BUT, that’s not IT. This simple thing is really hard to do but oh, so important. Let me give you a bunch of examples to help you understand this concept better:
- If you tell your child, “If you jump on the couch one more time, I am going to ship you to Siberia,” then you have to do it. Seriously. You have to be consistent and follow through with what you say. Solution? Don’t say something you’re not going to do. If you say you’re going to ship them to Siberia but don’t, you’re a liar. Don’t lie to your children. The next time you try to give them a real warning, they won’t believe you.
- If you tell your child, “If you jump on the couch one more time, you are going to time out for two minutes,” then you have to do it.
- Oh, here’s another thing I’ve heard a lot, “If you don’t stop doing that, you have to go to your room for 10 minutes.” That’s ok with a younger child, I guess. You can MAKE them go to their room. With an older child though, you can’t make them go to their room. Once they are a certain age, you can’t physically force them to do it (which is questionable parenting anyway). So if you don’t have a way of making them do the punishment, it’s a bad punishment.
- If you say, “On Friday we are going to go to the zoo.” Then you HAVE to go to the zoo. Solution? Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep. Either don’t tell your children what you are going to do far in the future or don’t promise them. Say things like we are hopefully going to go, if no one gets sick and you are good until then, we are going to go. Get it?
- Here’s the biggest and most important part of this lesson – if you say “no,” you can’t change your mind. You have to keep saying no over and over or your child will know if they bug you over and over that you will cave. Just because they bring up a compelling argument and you want to change your mind, you can’t. If you do, you are a liar and inconsistent and your child will not believe you for a long time when you say no again. A few times I’ve gotten around this by still saying no but maybe saying something like, “I said you had to have your room clean before we could go to the zoo, but I didn’t say your sister couldn’t help you.”. I don’t know if that’s the best answer, but sometimes circumstances truly do change and you need a way out without being inconsistent. Or you may be able to present an alternative, like “you can’t do Plan A, but you can do Plan B.”
- You and your spouse need to be consistent together. You have to agree on things and present a unified front, even if you may not agree with your spouse. Your children have to know that what one parent says is what the other parent will say.
That’s really all there is to it. So simple, yet so hard to actually do. It sure cuts down on the begging in our house and the bad behavior though when you children believe what you say. Like I tell my kids a lot, “I mean what I said and I said what I meant, and mommy’s word is 100%”. (changed a bit from Horton Hatches the Egg)
And since I’m really not the best parent ever, and some of my advice above may not be the best, I found some advice from other bloggers that may be helpful in your quest to become a better parent:
Definitely worth a read.
I love the idea of this kindness jar, because it’s a visual way to have positive parenting
I thought she had some great ideas that really could be applied to children of any age