Consistency in Parenting

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On the Importance of Consistency in Parenting

Consistency is one of the most important concepts in life. Be it in your personal life, professional career, family system, romantic relationships, or friendships, consistency is key to understanding what you want and what you can get out of a situation. There is no area where consistency is more essential than in parenting. Children of any age thrive with consistency. One of the most difficult aspects of raising a child from the time they are infants is communicating to them what you need and understanding what they need. For parents, especially in a unit, it is very difficult to be 100% consistent.

Every interaction between a child and a parent provides a learning experience for the child. Children learn how the world works and how communication works through the way in which their parents interact with them. Every challenging behaviour a child displays presents an opportunity for a parent to teach a valuable lesson to their youngster. Of course, while each behavior will vary, parents need to deal with each behavior in a consistent fashion. This will communicate to your child exactly what is expected of them in any given situation.

Consistency Helps Children Understand

A lack of consistency in parenting may create far more devastating consequences than you might initially imagine. Sending your child mixed messages will confuse them and can be particularly detrimental for young children. Babies and toddlers cannot decipher what types of behaviors merit reward and what types of behavior warrant reprimand. Reward and punishment is one area where consistent parenting can really help save some time and energy. However, this is a very difficult task. No doubt, sometimes, as parents, we get frustrated or angry and threaten things that we don’t really mean. Some days after a long shift we are too tired to follow through with punishments, we don’t have the strength for temper tantrums, or we cave to our begging doe-eyed youngsters. Be consistent from the start.

The concept of consistent parenting is fairly simple to understand. Being inconsistent in your parenting techniques communicates mixed messages to your child. These mixed messages are defined by behavioural scientists as “intermittent reinforcement,” meaning that sometimes a child is punished for a behavior and other times they are not punished for that behaviour. Intermittent reinforcement can actually encourage negative behaviour. For example, if a baby or toddler is screaming (for no reason) and you eventually give in and give the child what they want, you will actually be training them to cry longer to get what they want. The behaviour taught by this kind of inconsistent reinforcement is the most challenging behavior to alter or end. If you maintain a consistent reinforcement strategy with your child (or children) from a young age, they will be more likely to develop the behaviour that you wish them to display. Responding to a child’s behavior in a different way each time it occurs is severely counter productive.

Consistency  -Final Word

Determine the goals that you have for your children and your parenting and establish a routine for the way in which you respond to various behaviors. Inconsistency is only going to make things more difficult for both you and your child. Work with your partner and any other adults who will be caring for your child or children (such as grandparents or other family member) to develop a consistent behavior reinforcement plan. If everyone is on the same page, including your child, everyone will be more likely to be successful and happy.

 

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.

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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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Comments

  1. Thank you Nadia for sharing this post. Consistency is important but as with everything in life, some days it is harder to follow through. Being consistent in how you demonstrate love is important too.

  2. couldn’t agree more. Especially when parenting a child with Autism.

  3. Natalie says:

    Need to show this one to the hubby!

  4. Linda says:

    So true. My husband and I really need to word on our consistency

  5. Great post. Heh, I’m not even a kid anymore and still love consistency 😛

  6. Consistency is something I strive for but some days are harder than others as it takes a lot of patients at times. Great article and thanks for the timely reminder (my toddler is pushing all the boundaries at the moment and hubby and I are trying to be consistent and on the same page with how we deal with it!).

  7. Amanda Gorton says:

    I agree consistency helps kids learn their boundaries too.

  8. Consistency has definitely been the key in our house. Even if sometimes it means I have to tell hubby what he needs to be doing so we’re on the same page when dealing with the kids.

  9. Karin Rogan says:

    i agree with 14 grandchildren i find consistency not only with an individual child but with all of the grandchildren is invaluable with each of them understanding what is expected of them and they can also see that it is being practised by all of the children..

  10. I agree with consistency being paramount in assisting children to learn the boundaries set. My husband is happy to follow my lead, which is great, as I am home most of the time and he works away.

  11. Consistency is soooo important – but sometimes difficult to act out when over indulgent grandparents are around :)

  12. Claire Lewis says:

    This is such a challenging issue in our house!
    Although we try really hard to communicate clearly, often my husband and I find ourselves being hugely inconsistent – luckily our daughter isn’t using that to her advantage just yet, but it is something we are working harder on.

  13. This is so true! I am a new mum but already I’m finding a difference in the way my daughter behaves and how other kids behave who are not given consistent cues/patterns/routines. It takes work though!

  14. monica scurlock says:

    Consistency and routine works well..children behave better when you dont change your mind all the time. They dont push the rules as much.

  15. Jennifer B. says:

    Practicing consistency with young children is also a great habit for parents AND children to work on before those kids get into for their teenage years…
    Sixteen year-olds are experts at crumbling down inconsistent rulings!

  16. Elissa says:

    We know we should be consistent but it is difficult with three children at different ages and developmental stages. We have started focussing on one thing at a time. We have a family discussion & pick something for us all to work on for the week. The kids have responded well & they are good at picking us up when we forget! Helps us be more consistent when we’re all on the same page :)

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  1. […] I know many mums abhor a routine and think it is a cruel thing to do to babies, but many child experts will tell you that children young and old thrive on consistency. It gives them confidence because for the most […]

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