Sunday, August 15, 2010

On Being Consistent

I'm not all that consistent with my kids.  I know that "be consistent" is a big parenting thing - and I am pretty consistent about some things - bedtimes (within 1/2 hour or so - my sanity requires this!), requiring my kids to say please and thank you, making sure they pick up their rooms, having good after-school snacks and chats most days...

But sometimes I start great things and get pretty lax on the follow-through.  Like today Eliza pointed at the dog-eared award on her door and said "Mommy, you said we were going to do awards after dinner every Sunday and we haven't done it in ages!"  She's totally right.  I got this great idea from my parents to do these Sunday Awards that really motivate good behavior and give everyone a chance to share the good things they've done (or the things they've observed other family members do) throughout the week.  The kids loved the idea right off the bat and we always have very positive experiences when we remember to do awards on Sunday.  But we forget a lot.  In thinking about it, though, it's actually more effective to be less consistent on that one.  Looking back, when the kids have reminded me (and it wasn't already bedtime), we do awards.  Sometimes we do them several weeks in a row.  If we don't do if for a while, it's OK.  Everyone's re-excited when we start up again.

And I'm really not consistent with Mommy dates.  My kids LOVE going on little individual "dates" with me and I love it as well.  I keep setting goals to get out on a date with each child each month - and just taking a kid one-on-one on some little errand totally counts.  But still, I can't seem to make it happen very regularly.  When I do get a date in here and there, the kids love it so much and I'll keep setting the goal to do them more often.  But you know what?  Sometimes is a lot better than never so I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

One area where my husband and I are deliberately NOT consistent is in the way we treat our kids.  While the rules are the same for everyone and most basic consequences are pretty consistent (on a good day), the exact consequences and manner or dealing with issues needs to be a little different with each child.  We have one child who melts into tears with a stern look and sincerely apologizes.  He doesn't need heavy-handed consequences.  Another child is stubborn and hates admitting any wrong-doing.  This child needs more discussions about what went wrong and what could have gone better.  One child only seems to change behavior when he gets a monetary fine for things - he's very motivated by money - while another child couldn't care less about money or any other material thing.  Each child is an individual who really needs to be dealt with in a different way.  And as soon as we think we've got something figured out, the next kid meets a similar problem and we see that he or she needs a different solution than what we thought we had all figured out from the previous kid!

So consistency is complicated.

But I think what matters most is that we keep looking at what we're doing and decide where consistency is important and where it isn't.  I think it's all about being thoughtful and deliberate .

And those are my thoughts on parenting for today!

5 comments:

Artfulife said...

Absolutely loved reading this. Thanks for sharing.

Jessica said...

I know you don't know me...but I caught your link through your sister Shawni's blog. You have some fabulous thoughts here, thanks for sharing! You read my mind..sometimes I feel I'm the only one thinking those very things!! :)

Eyrealm said...

Consistency is always the problem and you're absolutely right...sometimes you just can't and don't want to be consistent. What a complicated deal parenting is! You, however, are doing a great job!

Hilary said...

Good thoughts....
And everyone needs consistancy in their own way. I love how that siblings without rivalry book teaches us that each child gets what they NEED, even if that's not always the same.

Hi, I'm Hannah. said...

Wow, thanks for helping me clear up my thoughts on this. I think I'm consistent in most of the same ways you are. I have never been a person that sticks to a schedule (except for bedtime for the very same reasons you expressed :) but now that I think about it, I am consistent on the things that matter the most. Thanks!

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