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How to be consistent – the key to effective parenting

Father asking his son to clean up his messy roomBeing consistent is the single most effective way of parenting.

And you have to be consistently consistent in order for it to work. If you fail to be consistent just once you will have ruined some of your hard work.

But don’t give up, because eventually it gets easier.

Here are some helpful tips for being consistent based on the example of asking a child to clean their room.

8 steps to being consistent

  1. You must be convinced before you tell your child to clean their room that it is worth the work. If you have not established that your goal is to develop a responsible adult then you won’t stick with it, which leads me to my next point.
  2. You have to be determined to follow through, which means you will need to ensure they are doing what you expect of them without nagging them. You cannot become engrossed in a book or social media and forget you had sent them to do this task and expect they will actually do it.
  3. The child should know exactly what you expect from them. You must be fair and logical on why and how you want the child to do the chore. Explain that this is the area of the house they are responsible for. I had a reward chart when I was a child so I could look at it and put a checkmark on the items I had completed so I knew what was left.
  4. Have set consequences. I suggest you start by offering a positive consequence if they accomplish the task within a time frame rather than a negative consequence if they don’t. For example, explain that you expect this chore done before dinner then after dinner you will sit and play a game with them or watch a movie.
  5. If they do not do the job right within the time frame then you might want to introduce a negative consequence.  Let your child know what this negative consequence will be if the job is not done in the new time frame you set up. It’s important to know your child and pick something that will hopefully work. It could be grounding them from playing video games or losing an hour of TV.
  6. Give yourself plenty of time to get this chore done in case they test you to see where your boundaries are. You do not want to be giving in and not following through with this due to a lack of time.
  7. Know when enough is enough. This is an important step.  Some children will just keep pushing and pushing. If you do have to do this step, ensure the consequence is given every day until next chore day. i.e. they are grounded from video games until next chore day.
  8. Don’t clean it for them! It is OK if they live in the mess for a while. Stay consistent in making this their responsibility. Ensure they know they will be cleaning it the next time.
READ: What can your child do? Check out our list of age-appropriate chores for children

Why consistency is worth it in the long-run

It is human nature to test boundaries so if you do have a child who continually tests those boundaries don’t give up as the rewards will be worth it.

  • Your children are learning to respect authority.
  • You are teaching them that there is a level of expectancy. This will be beneficial for every aspect of their lives such as homework, when they start a job and relationships.
  • They are also learning that you are dependable. If you follow through with everything you say you will do, even in handing out consequences, they will come to know that your ‘yes’ always means yes and your ‘no’ always means no. They learn that you will always do as you say and they can count on that in all areas of life.
  • They will learn to trust your word no matter what and they will learn the value of that by watching you and become trustworthy as well.
  • With time, they will lessen the amount of times they test you because they know you mean what you say.

Just remember this is not a test of wills.

You are the parent, they are the child and as long as your motive is to teach and instruct – and your resolve is to help them become responsible, productive adults – do not let them guilt you into giving up.

You are not alone, we all struggle with being consistent but the rewards for both you and the child are worth it.

Image credit: bialasiewicz/123RF Stock Photo

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