No one thought about parenting this way before their kids were born.
I don’t think many of us thought it would be so hard.
It’s human nature to want to take the easy way out…sometimes.
We all know that parenting is hard. When you use positive discipline and raise your kids the right way, it will be work – no doubt!
To be honest, sometimes I take the easy way out and then I have to work hard to get my kids’ behavior back on track. Some days, it seems near impossible, but because I love my kids more than life itself I will get them back on track!
This is what I tell myself and then I do it!
Why? Because when I am consistent with what I expect from my children, their behavior is TONS better! Consistency in everyone’s parenting style plays a huge role in determining how things will work out.
I’m Not Perfect…No One Is
There are no perfect parents. There are no perfect kids. There are no perfect situations. I get it! Parenting is hard work, and yes we make mistakes. We correct those mistakes and we try again; getting just a bit better than the day before. This is parenting!
Wherever you currently are in your parenting journey, take the time to reflect on how things are going and what mistakes you want to change as you get yourself to the point of being ‘just a bit better than the day before’.
Commit to this change, involve your kids, and make a plan of action!
When the Magic Happens
Whatever your situation, plan, or desire for your kids; following through on what you say you will do and being consistent with behavior planning is truly magical. Your kids will know what to expect and even though kids test the limits like nobody’s business, you can be their rock!
So many wonderful results come of situations like these. Here are just a few:
- Your stress level decreases because your kids are doing what you expect of them
- Your children learn how to be respectful and responsible by following the rules; not to mention feeling proud of themselves when they do
- Your children feel safe and secure in knowing how to behave and what is expected of them
Will this magic happen overnight? Nope. It must be learned and used daily!
Here is a simple illustration of what we are talking about with expectations, follow through and consistency:
I tell my kids that they can earn a reward for sharing and being kind to one another at the playground. While at the playground they end up arguing, tattling and fighting over the monkey bars.
My response to their behavior is that there will be no reward. When they ask why, I will simply tell them why and move on. Although it will be hard to see them feel sad and disappointed I know I am doing the right thing to follow through on not giving them a reward.
Why you ask?
Consistently following through on what you say will happen will teach your kids that you mean what you say a.k.a – they can trust you! Once they figure all of this out, they will take you more seriously and will increase their listening. You’ve got to start somewhere. So if you feel that your kids don’t take you seriously, start now by talking to them and planning for how things will change. Your willingness and ability to stay consistent with whatever plan your family agrees on will be key in it’s success.
When Things Just Aren’t Working
What about when you want your kids to stop what they are doing but they keep doing things their way? We’ve got some extra tips for just these times!
When children repeat behaviors, they do so because they are not receiving a clear message to stop. This is good news when your child chooses to display positive choices. However, when you are trying to extinguish an inappropriate behavior, you need to be able to communicate the importance of stopping ASAP!
Many people don’t realize that they are sending inconsistent messages to their children. The following messages do not tell children to stop a behavior:
• “I wish you would…”
• “You should…”
• Saying one thing but then allowing the opposite
• Offering a reward after your child refuses to comply (this is bribery)
• Giving several warnings, reminders, and repeating your requests
• Ending a request with, “Okay?”
In each of these examples, your words are not directly communicating what you are expecting from your child. They are more in the class of “It would be nice if you would do ________ but your really don’t have to”
Try these one-step phrases instead:
- “I need you to ________”
- “Please ___________”
- “When I count from 10 to 1, I need to you to _________”
When using these phrases, be in the presence of your child and make eye contact with them. Don’t leave their sight until they get going on your request.
Being Consistent with Correcting Misbehavior
Sending clear messages of what you expect your children to do/how you expect them to behave must also be conveyed consistently. Matching your verbal and nonverbal communication is very important in establishing limits for your child.
When clearly communicating with your children, follow these steps to help avoid blaming, scolding, and negative attention (none of those are effective anyway):
- Use a calm voice. This shows that you are in control of yourself. It also serves as an example to your children of how to handle problems in a calm manner.
- Speak about your child’s behavior. Simply state that your child is a great person; it is the behavior that needs to change.
- Tell your child simply and specifically what you expect. “I need you to…”
- Tell your child the consequences associated with following your request along with the consequences for not following through.
- Walk away and give your child some time to make a decision.
- Always deliver the consequence based on what your child chooses to do.
- Do all of these things consistently.
Follow these steps each and every time, and you will be amazed at the ways in which your children will show positive behavior choices.
Testing the Limits
Know that kids who test the limits and test their parents are doing just as they developmentally should. This is the time of their lives where ethics, learning right from wrong, and how to interact with others is forming. This time is so critical to their development and must be treated with care if we are to produce responsible and respectful individuals. During this time, children watch what we do, how we solve problems, and how we interact with others.
What we do becomes what they do. How we uphold our limits that they are testing results in how they will respond and how important they will perceive our limits as being.
Testing is normal! Embrace it and stay consistent. It is one of the gifts we as parents can give our children as they are figuring out life.
Testing with Behavior Plans
Testing to see if the consequences are here to stay or if they will occur each time is common, especially in the beginning of a new plan. You must be consistent in order to gain the most positive results for your family; yourself included. This consistency will help to decrease the amount your children will test and, before you know it, testing the limits will begin to occur less frequently.
If you are consistent, your children will learn that you mean what you say. They will feel secure to take healthy risks in life. They will also develop levels of respect and responsibility that you will both be proud of.
This process should be in place for all of the years spent raising your children. If you haven’t started yet, start now. It is never too late to devote time to teaching your children right from wrong.
Of special note: Children who act out for the purpose of receiving attention will test the limits and the consequences even more so than others. This is due to their overwhelming need to gain attention. In their minds, negative attention is better than no attention at all. If they can ruffle your feathers and get a further consequences, their testing behavior has just paid off (in the form of your attention being given to them) and they will be likely to do it again in the future. The same holds true for when lectures or warnings are given.
Stay calm, consistent and carry on – you will see this behavior decrease.
Don’t Forget About Their Good Choices
Consistently (if you haven’t figured it out yet….this word is about to become your new best friend) give attention to your children’s positive behavior. This includes praising their efforts and small accomplishments made toward positive behaviors. Not only am I telling you to give consistent consequences, but I am also telling you to give consistent praise. These two vital components will result in behavioral success.
Look at your children and give a praise right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait – its that important!
Now make this a regular habit each and every day. Even if your children do not respond, keep praising. They are listening!
The Recap – Words are Powerful, Actions are Life Changing
I beg you to show consistency between your words and actions – every time. If your words do no match your actions, you children will NOT take you seriously. As a result, your words will be ignored. They will interpret your inconsistency as permission to dismiss your attempts at discipline along with dismissing the requests that you make of them. Children base their beliefs and actions on what they see. Follow through!
If you are in a situation with your children where your words are being ignored, start now by matching your words and actions. When you tell your children they will go to time-out for not listening the first time a request is made, send them to time-out if they choose not to listen. If you end up repeating your request until you get frustrated and finally send them to time-out, your children learn that in reality they don’t have to listen to you the first time.
Even though you told them that they do, your actions did not support your words. They now know that they can ignore your request for the first few times and not suffer any consequences. Yikes!
The good news here is if you provide your children with consistency, they will begin to take your words seriously. Remember that it is normal for children to test these limits. Be patient and stand strong. It will pay off for you and your children. I promise!