On the phone recently, I overheard our 5-year-old grandson asking his dad if he could do something – for which his dad said “no, sorry – it’s 7:30 already and almost bedtime.”
“But Dad” I heard, but his dad stayed strong, repeating, I’m sorry, but it’s after 7:30 and it’s almost bedtime.”
Theo escalated and showed his disappointment to no avail. His dad remained unruffled – kind, but consistent. And Theo, recognizing the finality, went off to find another way to use his time before bedtime.
From the ears of this mother and Parent Educator, all I could think was “well done!” – but from the ears of a grandma, all I could think was “really? oh, come on – the poor boy!”
However, I know – children really do need us as parents to stick to the bottom line – to stick to what they’ve been told – to feel the strength and the love that comes from a parent when they are consistent.
For it is consistency that provides this sense of security to a child – even if their requests may be denied – even if a child reacts in anger.
I’ve heard from parents who find it really difficult not to give in repeatedly – and then have shared – it’s never enough. Their child wants more, continues to never take no for an answer, to up the ante – and the parent is left frustrated, exhausted and confused.
When we find our child is defiant of almost everything, it could be that he/she is in need of leadership from his/her parents – perhaps a child who needs to trust in a routine, a child looking for this sense of security.
But aren’t there times when routines can be changed, rules broken? Of course! Consistency does not mean rigidity. Repeat – consistency does not mean rigidity!
Spontaneity is a beautiful thing in our family lives.
But on a day to day basis – consistency will smooth the way.
Unless – perhaps – just maybe – a child asks his grandma!