Are You A Inconsistent Mom?

The Great Caper CaperCreative Commons License photo credit: mattymatt

When I was young, my brother and I got into lots of fights that were mostly my fault. When my mother found out that I was responsible, she would tell me that I was grounded and would send me to my room. No more than 10 minutes later though, she would always end up coming into my room and apologizing for punishing me this way. It seemed like I never got a clear message from her as to what I did wrong and why I was in trouble and therefore, I turned into a master manipulator with my parents because I knew they would be inconsistent. I knew I could get what I wanted due to that. Fortunately, my relationship with my parents is much better now and inconsistencies in childhood can be overcome, but why even let them happen for that long?

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A huge mistake that so many parents make is to be inconsistent, especially with discipline. Often times, parents will discipline their children for doing some things wrong, but at other times, they will simply give in to what their children want. Have you ever felt so frustrated with your child during a temper tantrum that you finally just give in to get him/her to stop? Don’t worry. Even though this is not the best approach to dealing with a temper tantrum, it still happens a lot! You want to make sure to always be consistent with your discipline. If you give in one time and not another, not only will your child be confused and feel insecure but future issues will probably become worse as your child thinks, “Wait, I got away with this last time but not this time? Hmmm, I need to up my ante and act worse so my mom gives in again.” That is not a fun situation to deal with.

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Sometimes parents react impulsively (like with giving into a temper tantrum to just get their child to stop) because they feel overwhelmed and emotionally charged. When your child is pushing you to the edge, it is completely ok for you to leave the situation and come back when you are ready to handle it better. Simply let your child know that you are upset or angry with his/her behavior and you need some time alone to think before moving forward. It is also a good idea to recommend that your child think during that time as well. When you exhibit new behavior like this and change to more consistent discipline, it is almost a guarantee that your child will try and test you time and time again until he/she realizes that old habits and methods will no longer work. Unfortunately, it will get much worse before it gets better and that can be fairly discouraging. Your child will try to get what he/she wants like always but when he/she realizes it is no longer working, he/she will probably escalate the situation and make it even more unbearable for you than before. Be strong though! It is amazing to watch a child get so much more frustrated and act out even worse and then over time, to see him/her beginning to realize that it will not work and start acting more like a calm human being. When your child is pushing your buttons, remember to stay calm. When you fight back with your child, you are creating a power struggle that will either end you’re your child as the winner or in a fit of anger that can be dangerous. You want to avoid a power struggle between you and your child and remaining calm (and even walking away) will greatly reduce the chances of having a struggle like that. When you handle difficult situations with your child, make sure to point out and praise the positive behavior rather than focusing on the negative behavior. When your child finally exhibits a good behavior after throwing a fit and probably driving you close to insane, point out the good behavior and praise him/her for it.

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