The Biggest Gap in My Parenting (And How I’m Closing It)
“You need to be consistent.”
I've heard and read that phrase and similar ones many times regarding parenting.
And it's true, but perhaps parents need a little more elaboration on that phrase.
Maybe you understood completely what that advice meant, but I was missing a little piece of the puzzle myself.
Thankfully as I have sought the Lord's wisdom in my parenting, He has opened up my eyes more and more to an element that is so very crucial to my children's success.
See, when I would hear the phrase “Be consistent”, the idea that came to my mind was “When they disobey, make sure there are consequences every time. Never turn your head and forego correction because it's not convenient at the moment.”
And that is true. If you turn your head and allow your children to do whatever they want rather than putting in the work to deal with things when they arise, you are not doing yourself or your children any favors.
However, if that is the only connotation to the phrase “Be consistent” there is a massive gap in what our children really need!
If that is the only connotation, the focus is 100% on discipline and correction. Parents end up spending all their efforts correcting misbehavior. Instead, it's better to pour most of our efforts into proactively teaching our children.
I admit that I made this mistake when I first had children. I wanted so badly to “get it right” so I was very careful to “be consistent” about correcting bad behavior.
But what I didn't understand was that I was putting the cart before the horse. I was expecting to teach my children through correction. But if I would have put more time and effort into the teaching part there wouldn't have been nearly as much need for the correcting part.
So now when I think of the phrase “Be consistent”, I tell myself that I need to be consistent in focused teaching. I need to put intentional time into helping my children understand exactly how to do the many things I hope for them to learn.
- We can role play how to do things like share or how to use kind words.
- I can work alongside them as they clean their room until their brains have developed enough to understand how to get from point “messy” to point “clean.”
- I can redirect them when they kick their shoes off in the middle of the floor and teach them how to be a tidy person instead of waiting till I get irritated by the messy floor.
There are so many more examples I could give, but do you see how so much of our child training ends up being done through correction because we don't put the work on the front end of teaching them to begin with?
The more our interactions with our children are based on correction, the more they will hear the message, “You failed again.” So many zealous parents end up having strained relationships with their grown children because they unintentionally taught them that they are a disappointment and a failure.
But if we as parents could more intentionally focus on upfront connection, there would be far less correcting to do. AND, when there is correcting to be done, it can be given in the form of gentle reminders (remember when we learned how to do xyz? Now's a good chance for you to put in practice what we learned!) rather than lectures and reprimands.
I am sure if you start brainstorming, you can think of areas where you are constantly having to correct and discipline your child.
Think of ways you can teach and practice the things you want your children to learn before the need for correction arises!
Here are some fantastic resources that explore this topic more:
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