The absolute most important factor in child training is being consistent. I wish I had a dollar for every time a parent told me that YES they discipline their child but they have NO idea why their children are misbehaving so much! The answer is almost always that they are inconsistent.
It is not enough to just discipline your child. It is not enough to take them to church. It is not enough to make sure they are attending the Christian school or that they are homeschooled. It is not enough to have Bible devotions every night. It is not enough to make sure your child has their own Bible devotions. You as the parent must be consistent in your child training if you want to raise children that will grow up and serve the Lord!
First, are you an inconsistent parent? This is so hard for parents to identify. I believe the very best way for you to determine if you are an inconsistent parent is for you to ask your pastor or your pastor’s wife. Many times we as parents are blind to our own faults. It is almost impossible for us to see our own errors. If you truly want to raise up your children for God and you believe you are doing a great job, the best thing to do is to swallow your pride and go and ask your Pastor or his wife what THEY think.. and then be READY for their honest feedback!
Second, do you make empty threats? When you give an order, your word must be law. Your children must believe that you mean what you say and that you will follow through. Most parents err here because they have developed the habit of making empty threats. I mean really, are you really going to call the police if your child does not sit down in their car seat! (Not kidding.. I have heard parents tell their children this!) If your child does not hurry up and get his shoes on, are you really going to leave him behind while the rest of the family goes to church? Are you really going to buy ice cream for the other kids and not poor Johnney if Johnney does not stop hitting his sister? Each time you lie to your children and give them empty threats, you are underminding your own authority. Why should they believe you that they are going to “get it” when they get home when every other threat you have given them has never been fulfilled?
Third, do you correct your child for some infraction and five minutes later when your child is committing the exact same infraction do you turn a blind eye? This is one of the ways parents show their inconsistent parenting the most! There Suzie is, jumping on the couch. Mom is busy talking and when she FINALLY notices Suzies bad behavior, she tells Suzie to stop jumping on the couch. Suzie says, “Yes, ma’am” and obediently jumps off the couch with a smile. Then just as soon as mom’s back is turned, usually about 30 seconds to 3 minutes later, there Suzie is, jumping on the couch again and mom is completely oblivious that Suzie is even disobeying. I think mom forgot the rule faster than Suzie did!
Fourth, do you not follow through with making sure your kids continue to obey the rules and guidelines you have established? For example you tell your child, from now on they must take out the trash every Wednesday before the trash truck comes. So there Johnney goes… the first Wednesday he takes out the trash. The second Wednesday he takes it out just in the nick of time. The third Wednesday he gets up late for school so mommy “helps” him out and takes it out for him. And that is the end of it. From then on mommy has the job again!
Fifth, is your discipline inconsistent? Maybe your child spilled some milk at the table and because you are already irritated at the other twenty things that happened that day, poor Johnney gets about 20. Then the next day Johnney tells a whopper of a lie and well mommy is too tired to correct Johnney so he gets a verbal warning instead! The punishment must fit the crime and all infractions or rule breaking must be handled properly. There are only three reasons to discipline by the way: Disobedience, Disrespect, or Lying.
So how can we as parents be more consistent?
- Only discipline for disobedience, disrespect, or lying.
- Have specific punishments already established. For example, disobedience or disrespect then they receive 3 punishments. Lying is automatically 10. So for example if they broke an established rule, then it was direct disobedience and each instance warrants 3. You can establish rules during the day as well. For example you could say that if your child forgets to make their bed in the morning before school, they will receive 1. Whatever you say and establish, you must follow through with before the child goes to sleep in the evening.
- Be observant. Watch what you say and when you give an order, watch your child for at least 10 minutes to observe if they commit the same infraction again. Don’t give constant warnings. Say the rule one time and as soon as the rule is disobeyed, then carry out the punishment.
Remember that the goal in consistency is to train your children to respect your word. You want obedience and immediate obedience. Your children know if you mean what you say and if you are going to follow through!
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