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Consistency, is it really that important?

Years ago, I was asked this by a parent about co-parenting a child.  I was amazed I was even being asked this question, but I calmly stated it is paramount in a coparenting or even just a parenting situation.  If there isn’t consistency in your parenting style, you have chaos.  What does consistency do for the child and the parent?

  • It lets the child truly know where they stand regarding rules.
  • This in turn causes less limit testing to identify where the rule stands.
  • It gives the child a sense of security knowing where they are regarding parent expectations.
  • There are less turbulent moments with your child regarding rules.

When consistency isn’t part of your parenting style what does it cause?

  • Constant challenging of rules and expectations because the child pushes for what they want, not what they deserve.
  • More redirection by the parent with less favorable outcomes.
  • A confused child who lashes out more due to frustration and confusion.
  • A child who doesn’t feel as safe in their home, because they don’t know where the rules stand.

Setting clear consistent expectations isn’t that hard.  Do the same thing every time.  Can you occasionally make a mild shift in expectations?  Of course, you can.  Just simply present to the child with what the reason for the shift is e.g., “you’ve been doing very good lately, so yes you can stay out a little later with your friends.”  It is important that the modification in expectations is only occasional, and they are explained why you are doing it.  Do you modify just because the kid just keeps bugging you?  Absolutely not.  If you do, it teaches the kid to bug you about what they want every time, because it just might work.