Consistency: The Key to Eliminating Child Behavior Problems

By: Dr. Noel Swanson...

The importance of consistency in parenting can never be over-emphasized. It is the most essential requirement as far as child discipline is concerned. Any lapse will cause heavy damage in terms of reverting to bad behavior by the child. Yet, it cannot be denied that maintaining consistency is also the most arduous task. After all, parents are but human and children can sometimes drive you up the wall. Nonetheless, if you, as a parent, can get over the initial hurdles to being consistent, there are a number of benefits waiting for you.

You will need an unshakable determination to deal with children; children can be exasperating at times. They will test your will power. Older children will be defiant and younger ones will just not remember the rules. Your task is to go on repeating the same rules over and over again until they are well established. During the course of this drill, you may encounter sudden bursts that will catch you unawares and off guard. You need to be conscious of such moments and have a back-up strategy to deal with the unanticipated situation. Basically, you should be able to pre-empt your childís moves and have a solution.

Itís always best to start and maintain consistency as early as possible. Most parents wait for children to grow a little older to start establishing rules; they wait too long. Itís better to start when they are young because the younger they are the faster they learn, and for older children it is a longer process since they have to unlearn a certain behavior pattern to adopt a new one. Here are a few tips to maintain consistency:

1. Parents need to come to a consensus on acceptable behavior. You should sit down and communicate and plan a course of action for establishing child discipline. Take a look at areas where consistency is lacking and develop a plan for establishing consistency.

2. Once you have established child discipline parameters, don't quit half way. Stopping halfway is perhaps the worst thing you can do as a parent when attempting to establish consistency in child discipline. You will have to start over from the beginning just like with any habit-breaking tactic.

3. Flexibility: There are no hard and fast rules of parenting. Parents learn as they go along all the time. So, don't be afraid to change and adapt as the situation demands. Life canít be lived by the book. Make changes in the action plan if you think it is not working.

4. Team work: Parents must work as a team supporting each other and backing each other up. You may want a support system consisting of a close friend, family member or professional who can provide objective parenting tips and view point.

5. Ask for parenting help, if you need it. No one knows everything about parenting. There isn't a manual or how to guide. If you get stuck, ask around or do research.

Being consistent with child discipline isn't easy, but who says life is easy or parenting is easy! However, if you internalize these few catchwords, you will achieve success that will outweigh your initial disappointments.

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For additional information on child behavioral problem and parenting advice visit Dr. Noel Swanson writes regularly for Yes Parenting website and also has a free newsletter on children's behavior problems.

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