It’s no secret that raising kids can be challenging. One of the biggest secrets is that structure and consistency help make parenting a whole lot easier.
From discipline issues to picky eating, parenting has its frustrations.
So, everyone benefits when parents can rely on clear guidelines that make their job easier, like prioritizing structure and consistency.
In this article, we examine why consistency is so important in parenting, and we offer 5 tips for providing consistency and structure to your kids.
Why Consistency Matters
For most adults, structure in our lives is a given. We wake at a particular time, drive the same route to work, and follow specific rules, like not driving faster than the speed limit. These structures help guide us through our days, offering predictability. Because we know what’s coming, we feel confident about how we live our daily lives.
Because children are still learning how the world works, it is up to the adults in their lives to create clear structure and consistent expectations for them. When kids know what’s expected of them, they feel more at ease in the world. Kids with clear boundaries feel safe exploring new people, places, and things. Predictability allows confidence to grow.
What Consistency Looks Like
Consistent parenting means maintaining clear rules and expectations, even when the circumstances or environment are in flux. You don’t move the goalposts because you’re busy with another task or disinterested in discipline at a particular moment.
In our busy world, this can be easier said than done. But staying consistent can be the difference between your child perceiving the world as frightening and unpredictable and your child viewing the world as a safe, exciting place to explore.
The Problem with Unpredictable Expectations
Children rely on predictability to create mental models of how the world functions. In the same way they use observation to learn about the natural world, kids also use observation to understand behavior.
Suppose a parent reprimands their child for watching too much TV but allows the same behavior the following day. This contradiction prevents the child from developing a consistent mental model of expectations.
Even worse, such contradiction by a parent potentially teaches children that adults can’t be trusted.
How to Stay Consistent
1. MAKE YOUR EXPECTATIONS CLEAR
You can expect children to meet your expectations if you haven’t clearly explained them. Creating a list of household rules with your child may be helpful. This will allow them to understand what is and is not acceptable behavior in your home.
2. PRIORITIZE STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE
Kids thrive on routine. They feel safe, secure and confident when they have a general idea of how the day will go. Work with your child to create routines that work for everyone in the home. When a child doesn’t know what to expect, they will tend to want to be more controlling in efforts to anticipate what is to come. This presents a difficult circumstance for child and parent to be in.
3. DELIVER CONSISTENT DISCIPLINE
Don’t make threats of discipline if your child does “this” or your child does “that.” No means No… don’t cave to a child’s whiney requests after you have clearly explained expectations. The best approach is to deliver a consequence as a result of your child’s behavior. Empty threats with no follow-through is a sure way to raise a confused, anxious child. After all, if a child can’t trust their parents to behave predictably, they won’t easily trust anyone else.
Consistency can also Help Children Transition Between Homes After Divorce.
You might also be interested in reading 4 Tips for Setting Boundaries With Your Child.
By prioritizing structure and clearly explaining expectations for your children, you’ll be on your way to a happier home.
CONTACT CREATIVE COUNSELING CENTER
Are you struggling with a child’s challenging behaviors? Have you tried reward charts or loss of privileges, yet nothing seems to work? We’d like to help! We can work with your child or we can provide parent coaching. Request a FREE Phone Consultation by completing the form below. We will contact you and, after a conversation, we will help you determine whether our practice and which therapist is the best fit for your specific situation. If our practice is not right for your family, we’re happy to offer recommendations to other providers in the Denver metro area. We look forward to hearing from you!