Consistency is a huge challenge for every parent.
Being consist of what we want to teach our children takes a lot of thoughtfulness, planning, and grit. Especially since children develop so quickly! It seems like one minute they are just learning to crawl and the next, you’re signing them up for sports.
While the day-to-day routines may change as your child grows, consistent practices and philosophies should have consistent application and interaction. As a parent, I’ve found two things to be vital to in my journey towards consistency. They are:
1) Educate yourself on your child’s developmental stages.
2) Practicing how to be in relationship with my children in light of their growth & developmental stages.
Why these two things? Because I’ve found knowledge, coupled with action, breeds consistency and one without the other is an exercise in futility.
Being consistent in the work shaping our children is not easy but it is possible! Here are a few of my favorite resources to help you be consistent in your parenting.
1) Know your child’s growth and developmental stages
Get educated on human growth and developmental stages. Why? It will give you a heads up for what to look out for through the ages and stages of your child’s life.
One of my favorite books to recommend for understanding child development is “The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.” It is succinct and approachable for parents but has vital information on understanding your child’s developing mind!
There is even a chart in the appendix that lays out the stages of children’s mental capacity very succinctly and is a helpful cheat sheet to keep on hand!
A second great book is “Ages and Stages: A Parent’s Guide to Normal Childhood Development.” The book is a practical guide for parents about what is going on in child development from birth to 10 years old. Written with parents in mind, this is another helpful book to have on hand chock full of insights!
2) Learn ways to help your child’s intense emotions as they grow.
I’ll share 2 fantastic and really practical resources that have helped me learn ways to help me parent big emotions well.
The first one is from my colleague Lisa Dion which is a 2-page resource that is a compilation of nervous system symptoms and a list of ways to regulate through uncomfortable or unwanted symptoms when they show up.
This is really helpful as a parent. It’s a practical resource that lists examples of what activation (also known as fight, flight, freeze, fall asleep responses) can look like in children. A helpful list of activities to incorporate as redirections and regulation strategies is part of this sheet too!
And a second resource for learning ways to help children through intense emotions is No-Drama Discipline Workbook: Exercises, Activities, and Practical Strategies to Calm The Chaos and Nurture Developing Minds
This workbook takes concepts taught in many of the books written by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson to a practical level in an easy to follow workbook. It helps parents personalize their parent-child relationship training strategies!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once armed with resources it takes practice to integrate new ways of parenting.
Practicing, getting it wrong, practicing again, and doing this over and over is the only way I know how to really work on becoming a truly consistent parent. It’s hard work but it is all worth it.
Practically, this can look many different ways. Try completing worksheets (from the workbook mentioned above) and then role-playing with your spouse a few times before you implement your work. Or work on stopping yourself when you get it wrong with your child and utilizing a regulation activity from Lisa Dion’s sheet.
When you mess up, try saying to your children something like, “I need to do that again. I didn’t want to say that.”
Or possibly say, “I can’t keep that promise or punishment I just said. I said that out of anger. I’m going to try my reaction again with and find another way to address your actions.”
It’s not “one size fits all” in parenting! Feel free to try resources out, keeping the ones that work and discarding the ones that don’t along the way. But whatever resources resonate with you as a parent remember to work on incorporating them through intentional practice. Without intentional incorporation, the best practices just become experiments in different parenting techniques.
My hope is that you would have more confidence in parenting, more options, and the ability to be consistent in your parenting. As parents, we seek to help our children develop in organic and healthy ways to become well-rounded and well-adjusted people, and that starts with consistency.
It’s not about getting it right but it is about decreasing your frustration and your child’s overly activated nervous system.
Remember, keep short and long-term goals in mind in order to stay the course with consistency. Consistency is not rigidity or perfection. In fact, making mistakes and asking for forgiveness teaches children what real relationship looks like and is an important part of your child’s development.
Owner | Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
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