I was sound asleep, all of a sudden I heard a faint “mom”, as a light sleeper my eyes immediately opened. Shocked and worried can’t describe the panic as I looked to see my daughter’s face literally four inches from mine, her eyes were wild. Things were probably going 400 miles per hour through her young mind. “I can’t sleep” she cried. This was not the first time I had to battle her for bedtime that same night, but it no longer felt like it was late at night, but more like the sun was ready to rise. I immediately told her in a stern voice to go to bed -it was five am. But inside, I was yelling at myself. I needed to be more consistent. Your child needs consistency in order to strive. You need consistency in order to survive.
What does consistency mean?
Consistency means “regularity”. When a waitress has a regular patron, she usually already knows what he is going to order. It’s what’s expected. Consistency is knowing what’s expected.
Maybe you’re a free-range parent who feels that children learn by living and doing as they please and will learn through natural consequences. Or you can be a helicopter parent who has every minute of the day scheduled.
As a very relaxed parent, this
was is one of my biggest struggles. I don’t like bed times, I don’t like a one size fits all approach to milestones, I don’t like forcing my children to do anything they don’t want. I guess my style goes against the grain. But there is one thing, I have learned kids need, regardless of the parenting style of the home. Consistency. Regardless of how your family delegates things, there must be consistency.
What does consistency look like?
In many homes, consistency looks different. Maybe you’re more detailed oriented and work better on a schedule, especially if you work outside of the home and only have a certain amount of time to get things done. But in my house, as a stay-at-home mom (who loves comfort over order), I work better with routines. My children respond well to routines -because mom is not frantic.
Children need to know what to expect. Free range parents, your child needs to know that around a certain time we’re going to a,b,c and 1,2,3 needs to be done before a,b,c can do be done. Example, in order for your child to go outside they need to put away their toys and apply sunscreen. Or, when parents go to bed, lights are off and it’s time to sleep. Or at the very least be quiet with a calming toy.
If you’re a helicopter parent, you may feel that you’re consistent because everything is timed to the millisecond, but the truth is, just overscheduling your child’s day is not creating consistency. Chaos can still ensue if there’s not a routine. If one day is traveling to grandma’s, the next is a day full of sports, the other is play dates and just each day is different, meal times are different (even if scheduled), bedtimes are different etc, busy does not equal consistent.
3 Benefits of Consistency:
- A child feels protected– Having consistency helps create a sense of order -which actually creates a sense of protection. When children know what to expect it’s comforting. There are no confusions. If mom has a snack ready every day after school, little Billy won’t worry about the growling belly on the bus ride home. He rests assured that mom has a snack ready for him.
- Parents are in charge– I don’t know about you, but when I am consistent I feel empowered as a parent. Everyone knows that when mom is happy, everyone is happy. When you have a special needs child, PATIENCE IS KEY! Reacting to a voice that is too high can easily send a special needs child into panic mode. Your child is watching you, you’re setting the tone -which will you choose?
- There are fewer meltdowns– My daughter’s biggest trigger is the word “no”, especially when she was expecting a yes. Having clear rules and routines allows my daughter to process her wants. She has a guideline and is able to predict if she will receive a yes or a no by the history of my consistency. If I always cave in to saying yes to that cookie before dinner, and one day we go out to eat and I say no… yeah, I think you could only imagine how that might go.
Are you ready to be a consistent parent?
Any season of life that changes the expected routine of a child will create chaos. I know the strain and exhaustion that occurs in the home when a child has a meltdown. But take a moment and see through their eyes. Start being consistent and follow through, allow a month or two before expecting a change in your child. Remember, if there is a change that is going to occur temporarily that will throw your child off balance, try to warn them of the upcoming change and together create a plan to get through the moments chaos free.