Consistency Is The Key

Consistency: A steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form.

Our Mitch.

When Mitch was little I read every book about strong willed children I could get my hands on. Most of them had some suggestions/tips/ideas that applied to our “situation”, and others that didn’t. This was mainly because the “situation” seemed ever changing, we would work through one behavior and another would start. Over the years Mike and I attempted and implemented many suggestions from these books and articles, and followed advice from other parents.

Thinking back now, I barely remember how frustrated I was then. But I know at times it was bad. Since several of my friends have now become parents, yes I do tend to hang with a younger crowd, I hear now about the frustrations with their strong willed, intelligent children. Good to know that everything hasn’t changed… I guess, kids can still be kids.

My biggest piece of advice, and something that has helped us over the years, has been to remain consistent.

When the kids were little, we established a very specific bedtime routine. Whether it was me, Mike, or both of us putting the boys to bed, the routine remained the same. No matter how bad the behavior, the routine stayed consistent from our end.

Yes indeed, some days were harder than others, especially if we were tired. If I had lost my patience, which I have very little of to begin with, it was even more stressful. And yes, at times there was screaming, and the sense that those days/nights would never end. I remember thinking to myself, when is this ever going to be over?

It ended all right. Much to soon if you ask me now. But the funny thing is, the screaming hasn’t ended. Only there's an interesting twist…when a teen screams, it comes out in the form of silence. As in, they won't talk, won't let you in, won't let you know what is bothering them, when clearly something is.

I might prefer the actual screaming.

Kids like to test parents, like to push the envelope, like to be in control whether they are little boys or almost-adults. They like to see how far they can push back their boundaries. But as hard as it is, parents need to send a consistent message to show them what we expect, and to remind them who is in charge.

It is exhausting being the meany all the time. But then again, I have seen what happens to kids when parents don’t remain consistent and give in to those silent screams. And that is worse.

I won’t mince words. It gets really hard through the teenage years, maybe not as much of the physically exhausting kind of hard, as the mental. I might even go so far as to say, it is even more work and more important to stay firm and consistent as they get older. But I believe that even almost-adult kids are testing us to see what we will give in to, how we will react, and if we will love them, no matter what.

Parenting is never easy, and looking back I can see that all phases of parenting have had their challenges. Hopefully whatever phase you are currently in, stressful or not, will be remembered with love.

Enjoy the screams folks, it is better than silence.