The other day my friend was struggling with parenting her two-year-old. She felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and at a loss on how to parent her child who was pushing all the limits.
Can you relate?
We chatted for awhile and I thought back to one thing I could share with her that would help her feel more confident in her parenting ability. I’ve raised two adult children, am in the process of launching a 17-year-old out into the world, and now in the chaos of having an eight-year-old at home, so parenting is one thing I’ve had a bit of experience with.
One of my favorite all-time parenting books is ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Runkel. I took his training and became a certified instructor to share this parenting method because it literally changed my life and the future of my children and our relationship.
There are several key components that are shared in the book, but the one piece of advice I shared with my friend last week was to be consistent. Whatever you choose to do, be consistent.
It Is All About Integrity
Do you want your child to trust you?
Do you want them to learn to listen to you the first time?
It is all about integrity—meaning what you say, saying what you mean, and following through with what you promise.
Imagine what you are enforcing when you repeat yourself multiple times a day? When you ask your child to put their shoes on, but they ignore you. Do you follow through right then? If you repeat yourself several times before putting a consequence into place, you are reinforcing the behavior that your child does not need to listen to you the first time you ask.
Make a Request Once
Instead, you make a request the first time; when they make the choice to not obey your request, you enforce a consequence immediately, not after asking five times or losing your cool—which is what I was like about 15 years ago. I was a screamer. I yelled and raised my voice to try to get obedience, which is ridiculous! It took practice, patience with myself, and grace to overcome the pattern I had created for myself of yelling to try to get my children to obey.
Have a Consequence Ready
The next step is to have a consequence set in your mind on what you will do next, when your child does not comply with the first request. I often will give this information to my child in the form of a choice. “You can put your shoes on now, or if you choose not to, you will lose _____.” (I often would allow my children a privilege, like choosing the radio station or music in the car when we drove to school, or riding their bike to school instead of walking.) You will want to pick a consequence that fits your desire, your child’s heart.
Parenting is tough—no joke!!! But we can make it easier on everyone when we choose to be consistent. Our kids learn to trust our word, they are trained to listen to us the first time because they know action will take place when they choose not to. We have the ability to make huge strides in this area when we put forth the effort and practice consistency.
Pick one area you are struggling with enforcing consequences and decide to stand firm on what you say today.