Updated: Oct 20, 2019
If you’ve read any of my past parenting articles, chances are you have noticed some popular themes, one of which is Parental Consistency. Although I’ve discussed Parental Consistency frequently throughout the blog and in some of my books, it occurred to me that I had never written an article that was about Parental Consistency alone. Although I believe that the concept of Parental Consistency seems self-explanatory, it suddenly struck me that maybe this concept is not as intuitive as it might appear. For example, did you know that Parental Consistency can be broken down into 3 parts? Today on the blog, I’m going to dig in deep on this one incredibly important topic. I encourage you to give this article a quick read-through… I guarantee I’ll highlight something you hadn’t quite thought of before.
Let’s start at the beginning….
Parental Consistency is one of the keys to truly having a loving, united and happy home environment that is comforting, safe and secure to your children. Although many of us as parents believe that we are being consistent in our parenting, the reality is, most of us are not quite as accomplished in this arena as we would like to be. To begin, Parental Consistency can be broken up into 3 components: consistency day by day, consistency between parents and consistency between children. I’m going to discuss each one of these components, and then I’m going to teach you a simple parenting technique that will greatly improve your Parental Consistency in all 3 of these domains.
Consistency Day by Day
Our first component is about being consistent each day of the week. This means that if you have a specific rule in your home that you would like followed, you must be up to the task of enforcing this rule each day of the week and throughout each day. On the surface, this component seems extremely basic and easy to follow, but it is actually one of the trickiest to manage successfully.
Let’s look at an example:
Say it is a Saturday morning, and you have a simple rule that consists of “no jumping on the couch.” As your child races to the living room to begin his day, he immediately hops onto the sofa with glee and begins bouncing. As you pour your cup of coffee, you give him a warning to stop bouncing on the couch or he’ll have a consequence. He stops jumping, but an hour later begins jumping on the couch again. You give another warning, but this time, he doesn’t comply, and you administer a consequence. Five hours later, after spending time outside, he returns to the living room, hopping around once again on the sofa. You give him another warning but have to give him a consequence in the end. This time, however, he has a meltdown about the consequence, and your patience is starting to run thin. Imagine that this same routine keeps going on into the night. Now, you are exhausted emotionally and physically, and once again your child is jumping on the sofa.
Most of you know that, no matter how tired you are, you have to be consistent and you have to give out your warnings and apply the appropriate discipline. The truth is, however, few of us have the energy to keep fighting this tired battle. Furthermore, imagine that this example took place during the week after a long hard day at work. You are even less likely to be consistent and follow through. Hopefully you can see that this component, though easy to understand, is actually much more challenging to meet.
Consistency Between Co-Parents
As a parent, most of us have someone that we are parenting our children with. Your co-parent may be your spouse, your own parents, an aunt or uncle, and so on. Co-parents are those individuals who are responsible for watching your children a significant amount of the time. This would not include your child’s teacher. For me, my co-parents are my husband and my own parents who babysit daily while I finish my day at work.
For this component, we are looking at consistency between all your co-parents, especially if you all live in the same home. This means that all co-parents share the same expectations of your children, enforcing the same rules. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but if it’s close, that’s all you need! For children, when co-parents stay consistent between each other, our children feel a greater sense of security and stability, and they are much better at meeting our expectations of them at a much higher rate. When you are consistent from co-parent to co-parent, the likelihood is that your child will be compliant and meet your expectations more regularly.
Consistency Between Children
Households with multiple children need to establish consistency from one child to the next. This means that if you’re disciplining your oldest child for misbehaving, you need to discipline your youngest child for engaging in that same behavior too. This doesn’t mean that you don’t make your consequences developmentally appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level. But it is important for your children to see that the rules apply equally among all children in the home. By remaining consistent from child to child, you will also decrease the likelihood that your children will experience sibling rivalries. Many sibling rivalries arise because children feel that they are being treated differently from their brother or sister. As such, this creates feelings of resentment towards their sibling (and sometimes parent) and develops into jealousy.
(Note: For more help on dealing with sibling jealousy, check out my post on How to Manage Sibling Rivalries.)
Now that you have knowledge of these different components, we will look into a simple parenting strategy that will help you achieve Parental Consistency in all its forms. This easy strategy, though incredibly simple, can be quite powerful when applied. This tactic is creating a list of Family Rules. If you are interested in learning more about this strategy, check out my post, Family Rules: The Cornerstone to Parental Consistency.
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