“Mommy, we are sorry! Mommy, we promise we will never do it again.” I hear these words often after children have been disobedient or ignored simple directions. And now they are told they will be restricted from doing something they want to do or will lose privileges at home. They beg for mercy and promise never to do it again. That’s when I make my biggest parenting mistake.
What is my biggest parenting mistake? Do I yell too much? Do I let my kids stay up too late (on school nights)? Do I let them eat the wrong food? Yes, to all of the above, but those mistakes are not my biggest parenting mistake.
My biggest parenting mistake, INCONSISTENCY! I make a rule or give a direction and then I don’t follow through and require action. Then the next time, it becomes harder and harder to make my children behave and do what I expect of them.
As a parent, it’s hard to know the right decision in every situation. There’s a delicate balance between justice and mercy. My children promise, every mistake will be the last mistake. They deserve mercy this time. Sadly, promises with kids are often forgotten as soon as they receive mercy. They love to do their own thing. If I give mercy too often, they will take advantage my words become meaningless.
The Problem with Inconsistency
When you make a rule or give a direction to your children, the expectation should be that it’s either done right way (example, please load the dishes into the dishwasher or pick up your toys after you finish playing) or it’s done all the time (example, hang up the towels after you take a bath/shower). But if you don’t apply these rules and expectations consistently, your children will think they don’t have to do them and they will disobey when you make other rules too because they don’t respect your authority as a parent.
If you have small children, this is the best time to teach consistency. Don’t give in to the cries or cute smiles. If you have said something should be done like, “pick up your toys” or “stop playing the tablet”. Help your child learn to follow instructions and obey parents from a young age.
If you have older kids and you were not consistent when they were young, it’s going to be more of a challenge to teach consistency now. But it can be done. With a little extra work, your children should start to realize you are serious about obeying rules and following instructions.
You might also like: 7 Timeless Truths To Teach Your Children
Why Are Parents Inconsistent
I don’t think parents intentionally plan to be inconsistent in their training to their kids (it wasn’t my plan). But over time, kids learn how to wear us down. When they are toddlers, they learn if they throw a fit long enough they might get something they want or least not have to do or eat something they don’t want.
When they are a little older, my kids would fuss and stomp their feet when they would not get their way. Eventually, we get tired of the arguing and we give in to them. We think to ourselves it’s “just this one time”, but then it becomes another time and another time. Eventually, inconsistency becomes the norm in our homes.
If you are tired of inconsistency and children that don’t seem to listen to you, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to fix this problem.
Recommended for You: Why My Kids Are Not Allowed to Watch YouTube
How to Fix the Problem of Inconsistency
Determine you will stop giving in to your children
Cut off inconsistency right when it starts, when your children start fussing and whining about your requirements or directions to complete a chore, don’t give in. Stand firm and expect your directions to be followed. If the directions are not followed, show your child you are not afraid to give a swift punishment. Don’t remove the punishment because they beg for mercy.
Note: I am not saying you have to spank your child or give a corporal punishment. You can remove a privilege, not allow them to participate in a favorite activity, take away electronics/video games, etc… The punishment should be specific to the child and what will motivate them.
Recognize that being inconsistent teaches your child bad habits
If you inconsistently apply rules and directions, your child will become lazy and not follow any directions you give. They will get into the habit of only following the directions they want to follow which is probably not many.
Being inconsistent also teaches your children to hold out long enough or fight with you until you “give in” to their demand. They will just slowly wear you down. Be strong, Mom!
Inconsistency undermines your authority as a parent. Consistency teaches your children the right way to behave and to respond respectfully to authority (parents, teachers, other adults/leaders).
Start being consistent today
It’s hard to make this change. Consistency isn’t easy. Our kids learn at a very early age how to wear us down. They will make promises, they will be good for a short period of time to convince us they have changed their bad habits.
Be strong! Be consistent! Once you have made a decision and stated a restriction stick to it. Yes, it will be hard in the beginning. Making the change to consistency will be hardest for YOU because you are already in the pattern of inconsistency.
The change will not happen instantly and your kids are sure to be resistant. But with time, hard work and consistency on your part – change will happen. This change will be good for everyone.
Parenting is hard work and it requires a constant commitment every day. There are no breaks, no recess no time outs for moms. You have to have your “mom” game on all day every day. Being consistent with your children is one of the keys to successful parenting.
Consistency isn’t a fast fix. One week of being consistent probably won’t fix the problem. Your children have to know you will be consistent every day for the long haul. Join me. Let’s get started on this fix today.
Leave me a comment … what’s your biggest parenting mistake? Do you struggle with consistency too?