Consistency

Your child needs to know that no matter what happens, you are always going to be a consistent parent. Maintaining consistency means that you are going to be patient, connected, adaptable, and edutaining with your child all the time, so your child knows what to expect from you, and you know what to expect from them. Here are some pointers on parental consistency:

  • Do not sway in how you react to your child day to day, even if your child makes mistakes or has a temper tantrum. Instead, a consistent approach in your parenting is crucial. Especially how you react to and resolve these types of situations.
  • Be Predictable. An inconsistent parent may yell at their child one day for a particular behavior, but the next day reacts with patience and use a similar situation as a teaching moment. This inconsistency only creates confusion for your child’s expectations.
  •  Don’t let your moods interfere. My mother was very inconsistent because of her feelings. If I wanted to ask her a question, I knew not to ask when she was on the couch with a migraine, but when she was busy baking, I knew that it was an excellent time to ask. I had to assess her mood before approaching her because she was very inconsistent in her attitudes and her parenting.
  • Let your child know that they can rely on you. By being consistent, they will always know what to expect from you and that they can depend on you to help, teach, and motivate them.
  • Don’t be a Lawnmower Parent.  This method is the type of parent who cuts a path or “lawn” for their child by finishing everything for them, such as completing their child’s homework for them or resolving all their mistakes for them. In the end, their child never learns how to fix their issues or errors. While this is a “consistent” approach, it is not a healthy one. A better, consistent approach is to let your child know that you will always strive to be connected, fair, attentive, patient, and adaptable with them.

When you think about consistency, ask yourself how you typically react in different situations with your child. Do you lose it when you’re in a bad mood, or do you keep your cool? Be as consistent and reliable as possible with your child as you can, regardless of your mood, and they will learn to be consistent and authentic with you, too.

Adaptability

Adaptability is about how you respond to your child, especially when things do not go as planned. Your child will have a variety of great days, bad days, and everything in between. Here are a few ways you can apply adaptability to your parenting and keep your child motivated:

Intrinsic Motivation

1) Choices

What do you do if your child does not want to do something?

You can intrinsically motivate them by allowing them to make choices or small decisions. Before I began using healthy competition to encourage my child to brush his teeth, I had to physically put the toothbrush in his mouth and brush for him. I eventually realized that I had to adapt because it was not working. He needed to learn to brush himself.

I took him to the store and let him pick out two toothbrushes to get him more interested in brushing his teeth. Being adaptable meant giving him some choices, so he felt more involved and motivated. Now he has 24 toothbrushes!

 If your child is a picky eater, try giving them choices about what you buy at the grocery store for dinner. Let them pick if they want chicken or steak, for instance. Then, pick out a couple of good options and let them pick again. Now they have a vested interest in the meal. Finally, get them involved in making dinner, emphasizing that they helped to pick out the food for dinner. Take it a step further and work on creating a recipe together.

2) Make it Exciting

Build up the excitement when you want or need your child to do something. If you tell a bunch of 7 to 9-year-old children to do push-ups, for example, do you think they will be excited? Instead, if you give them options and motivated instructions, they will excel.

Do you think they would instead do just a few push-ups, or would they do more if you told them that they would become “one of the most awesome and strong students in the class!” by doing a few more? The chances are that they will choose to become awesome and reliable. This type of intrinsic motivation excites them to make an extra effort.

3) Compromise

Another form of adaptability through intrinsic motivation is compromising when responding to your child’s requests. If your child comes home from school and wants a treat, but you want him to wait for dinner first, they may throw a temper tantrum or get upset because they didn’t get their way.

Providing a compromise that doesn’t affect their appetite before dinner but allows them to get what they want keeps the situation in perspective. For example, let the child know that they can have two gummy bears out of the bag now, and the rest after dinner. This incentivizing is a way to adapt to their request and keeps within your rules about not eating snacks that will spoil their appetite for dinner.

Extrinsic Motivation

Kids Like to See You Suffer!

Sometimes you need to pull out the pain card! Kids like to see you suffer or pay the price in some way. You may use extrinsic motivation, such as, “If you can do this drill without any mistakes, I’ll do push-ups!” They want to see you suffer through the push-ups, and they will do whatever it takes to make you have to do them.

I use this concept with my son. If he starts to procrastinate just as we head out the door, I use healthy competition and extrinsic motivation to get him moving! I tell him that if he runs to the car faster than me, I’ll do ten jumping jacks. He wins the race every time because he wants me to do the jumping jacks. Then, he counts everyone one of them off as I do them. Being an adaptable parent means using external motivation when necessary.

As you consider your level of adaptability today, ask yourself if you ever apply similar intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to your child. If not, consider adding them to your parenting tool kit. Your child’s behavior will change based on their mood, so the best way to parent is to adapt to their day as best as possible.

Nurturing

Being a nurturing parent means adjusting your child’s behaviors, not trying to change them. In other words, change the behavior, not the child.

Let Children Know that Mistakes are Okay

I get excited when my son makes a mistake because it allows me to teach him, which is what parenting is all about. Address your child’s errors in a nurturing way to help them learn and grow without feeling bad about themselves. Let your child know that everyone makes mistakes. Don’t get angry at them when they make a mistake, but take the time to explain how they can do better next time. Look at it as a time to help your child improve so they can feel good about who they are. The most important thing is to let them know that mistakes are okay.

Redefine a Child’s Weaknesses

Every child has behavioral weaknesses. Some get mad when they don’t win and physically show their anger by acting out. Others are empathetic and cry every time they are disappointed or sad. From one end of the spectrum to the other, your child will have a range of emotions.

The first key to redefining your child’s behavior is to redefine your perspective. For example, you may think that the only thing you can do to alleviate your child acting like a poor sport is to remove them from situations that trigger these behaviors, like eliminating games from their schedule.

Or, if your child cries easily, you may decide that they should not participate in situations where they may cry yet another time. This perspective focuses on the child and not the behavior.

Instead, turn your attention to what their behavior means and create a course of action that helps them funnel their personalities and behaviors in a positive, productive way, which begins with nourishing and not negating their innate passions and skills.

Nourish a Child’s Skills

If you look ahead into the future, you can see how a bull-headed child or a bad sport might use that passion and fire. That passionate drive may help them become the best CEO of a company, dedicated and committed to being the very best.

Or, the child who cries a lot may become an adult of compassion and empathy, a caring parent, and a person who wants to change the world for the better. None of this can happen if their behaviors are stifled instead of explored.

Try not to stifle the passions and emotions that make your child who they are. Instead, consider how you can help them modify their behaviors to nourish their desires and innate talents. This nurturing requires providing ways that they can be who they are through positive reinforcement of who they already are, which ultimately helps them become thriving and successful adults.

Choose the Direction

How do we get from here to there? From the spoiled brat to a successful CEO? From crybaby to the caring parent and teacher? The key is to point their behavior in the right direction. The best way to deal with your child’s actions is to turn them into strengths.

For the child who gets upset when he loses, you might adjust their behavior by saying, “I love that passion that you have, but let’s work together on other ways you can express that passion and desire to others.” Instead of the ordinary “If you do that again, you’re out” mindset.

For the child who cries often, don’t shame them into thinking that they must toughen up. Instead, let them know that you love their heart. Tell them, “I love that you get sad when you lose because you want to do better. But, crying all the time makes other people sad, too. Let’s see if you can choose a better way to show that you are sad than just crying.”

Remember, nurturing means changing the behavior, not the child. No child is born with a proper sense of good behavior. Just like adults, they make mistakes, and that is how they learn. Make sure to look at their mistakes as opportunities for education versus punishment.

The moral of the story is that when you look at your child, don’t focus on their behaviors. Instead, see the child who will one day use their passion to become a fantastic adult one day. See your child as a great CEO or a person who is going to change the world for the better one day.

Edutainment

Be the parent your child needs you to be. They need you to be in their world. That means interacting and playing with them on their level to prompt them through the tasks and chores they don’t want to do. Here are some tips and examples of using effectively using edutainment with your child.

Practice Healthy Competition

The child’s brain loves novelty. That is why healthy competition and games get them excited. You can help your child accomplish the daily tasks they do not necessarily want to do by adding a fun edutainment component.

Edutainment in daily tasks may include incorporating a game or competition into their nighttime routine to prompt them to get ready for bed, pick up their toys, or brush their teeth long enough.

 For instance, when it’s time for bed, create a healthy, fun competition that gets them excited. You might tell your child, “Okay! It’s time to get ready for bed! Let’s see who can race to the bathroom the fastest!” Once this completed, follow up with “Who can get their toothbrush out and put the toothpaste on the fastest?” or “Who can brush their teeth the longest?” For toothbrushing, when you know the two minutes is up, you can finish first, allowing them to win the competition of brushing for at least two minutes. Then, follow up with how surprised or excited that you are that they won.

Be Playful with Your Child

Your child is not going to behave all the time. They are not perfect. When your child throws a temper tantrum, is upset, or is insistent on something, add something playful to the mix that takes their mind off it.

If my son throws a temper tantrum, sometimes I pretend in a silly way that I am falling and hurt my foot, and he laughs. Or, if he sits in a chair that I specifically told him that I am going to sit in, I playfully act like I am going to sit on him. He likes the silliness, and it detracts and redirects him away from his original temper tantrum or harmful behavior.

Think Outside the Box

Playfulness and silliness work, but other times creative solutions help your child accomplish their tasks and chores. Homework is one thing that your child may not enjoy. Think outside the box to what excites them and incorporate that into their homework time.

Younger children love tents, so building a shelter or fort in the living room together where they can go to do their homework is an exciting way to mask the doldrums of homework. For teens, coffee shops are typical favorite hangouts. Going to one where they can have their favorite coffee drink and do their homework is a treat that they enjoy. Both scenarios change your child’s negative outlook on homework to something positive.

How edutaining are you as a parent? Whatever your level, you can better implement healthy competition, fun, and creative approaches to motivate your child. A child’s way of interpreting things is rarely ever black and white, usually because they are not eager to learn. When you edutain, you help them learn in a behavior that they embrace.

Prompting

How can you set your child up for daily success? One of the most effective ways to do this is to focus on prompting instead of punishment. Here’s what you need about inspiring your child toward ethical behavior and decisions:

Friendly Competition

One of the ways to encourage your child toward good behavior is to create a simple competition where you dare them to turn a negative behavior into a positive one. If your child is fidgety and doesn’t sit still or tends to be disruptive, for instance, create a friendly competition or prompt that steers them to better behavior.

To have them sit still, you may ask, “Let’s see if you can sit better than me!” This challenge puts his or her focus on trying to do better than you. They learn how to sit still without even realizing it.

A Dose of Praise

If your child wins the friendly little competition, or they do something well, give them a good dose of praise. A few encouraging words such as, “Look at how good you are at this!” are positive reinforcement that makes them feel good about themselves and their accomplishments.

Set Your Child Up for Success.

The whole goal behind prompting is to catch your child doing good things. How often do you find them doing something proper rather than bad behavior? Every time you catch your child doing something right, let them know. Along with praise, setting your child up for success means you recognize and reward their good behaviors. In fact, the more you catch them doing good things, the more their brain tells them, “I like this!” which gives them a good reason to continue.

Brain Power

The more you punish your child’s behavior, the more cortisol (stress hormone) is released and goes to your child’s brain. So, what kind of mind do you want your child to have? A mind that is excited about doing good things, or a brain that anticipates getting in trouble? I know my choice. I want my child to be always enthusiastic about doing good things.

Redirect

Helping your child improve their behaviors involves more than prompting them, setting them up for success, and catching them do good things. Sometimes prompting requires redirection. Redirection is merely redirecting their attention in a different direction when they are upset, worried, or anxious. Completely change the subject to something positive and engaging. If they are upset, redirect them to look out the window at something exciting, or ask about a favorite toy. This type of prompting helps divert their attention to a positive experience that supersedes their other challenging emotions.

The final question to ask yourself is how well you prompt your child for successful interactions and behaviors. I think we can all agree that children will not have the very best discipline all the time. To improve their level of discipline, we must prompt them all the time. Then, catch your child doing good things and set them up for success.