Avoiding the Inconsistent Parenting Trap

14th February 2019

Posted in: Blog Parenting

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when parenting is the ability to remain consistent. Tiredness, busy lives and trying to keep the peace mean parents are constantly having to fight against the urge to buckle under pressure and give in to their child or teens demands.

When I talk to parent’s I regularly hear the same question – “Why can’t I get my children to do what I ask them to do?” This seems to be the dilemma of many parents and I often find it’s a question that can be resolved with a consistent parenting plan. After talking with parents, I usually find there is a really good plan in place with regard to rules, boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behaviour, however implementing the plan consistently is often a problem. It’s easy to come up with a plan, but much harder to make it happen when you are feeling tired, frustrated and cranky.

Children and teens learn through rehearsal and repetition. They need clear and consistent guidelines in order to make good decisions and be able to predict what will happen if they behave inappropriately. Without clear guidelines, they become confused about what is expected of them, the lines between right and wrong become blurred and they learn to play parents against one another in order to get their own way. The end result is usually increased frustration and conflict within the family.

Some tips to help with consistent parenting include;

  • Keep things as simple as possible. Clearly outline the family rules, behaviour expectations and develop clear consequences for overstepping the boundaries. Once you have everyone knowing what is expected of them, you can commence consistent parenting. You may even want to go as far as drawing up a contract with your child or teen to help them take ownership and responsibility for their actions.
  • Have a family meeting to determine who is responsible for various household chores and implement age appropriate consequences for anyone who doesn’t complete their chores. Do up a chart and place it on the fridge so everyone can see what has to be done and by whom.
  • Make consistent decisions. Sending mixed messages about how your child or teen can behave will only encourage them to test the boundaries again in the future.
  • Avoid the argument trap. Don’t let your child or teen ague with you, refer them to the agreed behaviour guidelines and consequences.
  • Implement consequences swiftly and without entering into negotiations.
  • Make sure you and your partner or co-parent are on the same page so as to avoid your child or teen playing the two of you against each other to get their own way.
  • Remember old habits take a while to break. At first you may find resistance to the plan and the behaviour you want to change may even escalate as your child or teen tests the boundaries. Stand firm and believe in your plan, your child or teen will come to realise that it is much easier to do the right thing rather than risk a consequence for inappropriate behaviour.

There’s no doubt about it, parenting with consistency isn’t easy when you are feeling tired, frustrated and under pressure. Be reassured though, if you can stand strong and stick to your plan, both you and your children will reap the rewards. As hard as it may be to begin with, consistent parenting will significantly help you to gain the co-operation of your child or teen and also help you to develop more respectful, loving and trusting relationships with them.

If you feel counselling could help you to develop a consistent parenting plan, please don’t hesitate to contact Karen Cummins at Mindful Crossroads counselling services on 0400 416 535, or fill in the “Contact” section on the Mindful Crossroads website to arrange a confidential discussion.