Every parent is looking for the best parenting method or strategy. Let’s face it, it’s a hard job and we are always looking for answers.
There are hundreds of ways to parent. Everyone practices a method and might claim it’s the best. No parent wants to be told they aren’t doing something right. My skin feels like it’s going to catch fire anytime someone whom doesn’t know me or my situation corrects my parenting. Its infuriating. I bet there are a lot of moms out there that feel the same way.
I am corrected constantly when I am around a particularly controlling family member. She says she is just making suggestions to make my life easier. She is around my children once or twice a year and suddenly she can do it better than me. She has gone as far as writing me letters about my parenting, down to what my child is eating. Now, I’m not opposed to a little constructive criticism, I’m always up for learning, but at least be a major part of our lives and see the day to day before trying to micromanage.
As I go about my daily life I have met all kinds of parents. I do not judge any of them because I know this job is challenging. Some parents are very hands off and some helicopter over their kids. Which one is the best? Is there one that’s better than the other? Do they both have benefits and downfalls? I don’t believe these questions can be answered. Every child is different and has varied needs. Some may need a more watchful eye than others.
My mom always says she raised us to leave the house. Sounds harsh but what she meant was she wanted us to be functioning adults. We had many responsibilities growing up. I’ve held a job since I was 15 years old. There were mothers that really let her know they didn’t approve and my mom lost friends along the way. In the end, she did what she thought was best for me, and she was right! When I entered college, I knew what I wanted my career to be (or at least what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life). I knew how to manage money, I knew the value of money, and I knew how to manage my free time with my responsibilities. Most importantly, I learned to work with and learn from a variety of personalities and grew socially.
For some teens, holding a job is not a possibility or simply may not be the right idea for him/her. That’s ok too! No judgment here!
So, what is the magical parenting tip? Its consistency. Now, I know you’re thinking, WTF?! I thought I was going to get a user’s manual! The truth of it is, if we are consistent, I believe our children will thrive.
If you choose a more of a hands-off parenting style, that is great! Many would say you will have very independent children and others might think your children will grow into hellions (do people even use that word anymore?). No one can surmise what will become of your children but what I can predict is that if children do not know the expectations (whatever they might be), it could get a little sticky.
When we are consistent our children know our expectations and are better behaved, when we are consistent our children know what to expect from our behavior. When we are consistent our children can predict what the day will bring and it might run a little smoother.
5 TIPS TO BE A CONSISTENT PARENT
- Mean what you say and say what you mean. It is probably not a promising idea to give threats and never follow through with them. If a parent asks a child to stop a behavior by stating, “If you cannot stop throwing woodchips, we will leave the playground”, then the parent must pack up the kids and leave if the behavior does not cease. Children are very intelligent; if consequences are never followed through, they will figure it out and act accordingly. Repeating a consequence over and over just means you like hearing yourself talk. A child does not care how many times you say. “please stop hitting or you will go to your room”. If you never send your child to their room, then why would your child choose to change his/her behavior?
- Have a few broad set of rules for your home. Such as be courteous, be respectful, and be grateful. I like this idea because it teaches good values and allows parents to keep a positive attitude in the home. Instead of a rule stating No Hitting, the rule is Be Respectful. These house rules cover a broad range of behaviors. For example, if your toddler is throwing a tantrum because she wants another donut. A good response might be, “Our house rule is to be grateful for what you have and if you cannot calm down then you can sit in timeout for 3 minutes.” Or as my son might just say, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit”. Whatever works for you!
- If there is a behavior you want to change, give a consequence every time the behavior takes place. If a parent occasionally follows through with consequences and chooses to ignore the behavior on other occasions, it is confusing for children. They may not know how to make better choices moving forward.
- Keep things simple, there is no need for complicated behavior charts and rewards for the everyday (although these methods do have their place on occasion). Just use positive reinforcement and affirmations when your child makes good choices.
- Stop caring what other people think. I need to remind myself of this every day. Ever since I became a mother, for some reason I became sensitive to what other mothers think about how I parent and how my children act. I remind myself daily that I have my own expectations for my children. If I am in public and I need to place my child in a short 2-3-minute timeout, I do it. I have received praise from on-lookers for following through with consequences so it can be empowering because I feel I have done something right.