One of the most imperative parts of disciplining our children is consistency. By being consistent, it prevents our children from escalating minor rule infractions and bad behavior into more serious rules being broken and even worse behaviors. As a parent, it’s not always easy being firm with our child. After all, we do love them, and it sometimes is easy to give into temptation to overlook the infraction or bad behavior.
However, by not being firm with our child, we are doing them a disservice. For example, if we say, “Turn off the video game now” or “You’re not getting dessert because you didn’t eat your dinner” you have to stick to your demands. If we let our child negotiate out of it, or we overlook the infractions, we are only encouraging our child to continue doing bad behavior. By being consistent, we show our child that there are consequences for not following our rules. Bad behavior is not tolerated. If we are not consistent with our children, we are not teaching them to be responsible for their actions.
If it is a two adult household, it’s also imperative that both adults are consistent with the discipline. It won’t work if one parent is consistent and the other lets the child get away with whatever they want, when they want. In a situation like this, the child will pick this up very quickly. The child will then learn to manipulate the situation by playing the adults against each other for an advantageous outcome to the child.
As parents, we have to present a unified front and be on the same page in front of our children. That’s why we should already have an agreement in place about the proper punishment, before we confront the child. This can be complicated if you are divorced or separated. Despite your differences, for the sake of your child, you should come to an agreement and find common ground when it comes to discipline.
You should talk openly and honestly about what rules are established, and the consequences for breaking those rules, with both your child and your former spouse. By discussing these rules, in advance, the consequences will also already have been discussed and can be implemented immediately. This situation is probably one of the hardest, when it comes to being a parent. However, just because the marriage is over, doesn’t mean the rules for your child should be thrown out the window.
If you do disagree with your spouse, or significant other, about the rule and the rule infraction, it’s best to not discuss this in front of the child. To be consistent, we as parents, have to be strong and stand firm. We have to be firm even when it becomes tiresome, difficult, or exhausting. Obviously, we have all had exhausting days and the last thing we want, is to have a difficult night, because of a parenting issue with our child.
Remember, your child may actually know you are tired and push the envelope intentionally so you will give in. That’s when it becomes that much more imperative to hold your ground. By standing firm, we are showing there is not room for negotiation and that you expect them to do nothing less than take responsibility for their actions. If your child knows you are consistent, and won’t back down, you’ll find you will have a lot less of a battle with discipline.