“Life is hard enough for kids without having parents who are constantly changing the rules.”
I wish I could remember which so-called parenting “expert” drove that bit of advice into my head.
Regardless, it’s in there; squeezed in between the importance of providing a child with an established routine to alleviate any chaos, fostering a sense of security and checking underneath piles of mashed potatoes for hidden broccoli, carrots, peas or other items that kids would rather chuck than consume.
When it comes to kids and consistency, it’s not just about setting and enforcing a decent bedtime, making sure teeth are brushed with toothpaste instead of air, and making clear that no jumping on the furniture includes flinging one’s self off the couch onto a recliner. Instead, it pays for parents to be stalwart in a number of areas, such as:
Separating the child from the behavior: One of the toughest challenges of parenthood is being able to calmly tell a child that you don’t like his bad behavior while still conveying unconditional love. Your child’s words and actions may frustrate the heck out of you, but it’s vital that you consistently show him that you care about him even if you can’t stand what he’s doing.
Availability: Actions speak louder than words. For many kids, the feeling of being loved by their parents has more to do with actual time spent together than flowery compliments or other verbal accolades. Bottom line: Be there for your kids. Nothing can rival your willingness to be present in your child’s life. Make sure you set aside time each day to cuddle, play or simply listen to your kid.
Say no to narcissism: Be consistent about supporting your child by keeping your ego out of his business. Your focus should be on your child’s well being, not yours. Resist the temptation to parent well only when it’s convenient for you to do so. Being a mom or dad requires sacrifice. Forget about placing conditions on your love and make your child your top priority.