North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL


September 27, 2011

Consistency key for parents

NORTH JEFFERSON — When people find out my specialty is parenting, their first question is, “What am I doing wrong?”  or “What can I do better?” After questioning them, I can usually pinpoint the issue — an      extremely common problem: Inconsistency. My basic rule of thumb is, “Mean what you say, say what you mean.” Empty threats get you nowhere.

It’s hard work to be consistent, but it’s absolutely necessary to be an effective parent. I promise that if you put forth the effort to be consistent, you will be amazed at the peace in your house.

Now, if you have not been consistent, you will have “growing pains” as you change your ways. Your children will test the boundaries, but you have got to stick to your guns. Do not give in. I promise they will give in if you just stay strong.

Yelling does not accomplish anything. Maintain a calm voice when applying your consistency. Example: 17-year-old Susie Q wants to hang out with her friends Friday night. You have told her she had to make at least a “B” on her chemistry test in order to do so. She made a “C.”

In maintaining your consistency, you tell her in a calm voice that she did not make the grade you agreed upon; therefore she will be staying home Friday night. Expect her to pitch a fit, but maintain your calm voice as you inform her that if she continues her disrespectful attitude she will suffer another consequence of your choosing. You know what consequence will be effective, so I am not suggesting one. Expect her to test those boundaries and your self control. Whatever you do, do not lose control. Maintain that calm voice and maintain your consistency. This won’t be easy, because you will be “punished” also by having to stay home with her, but eventually it will all pay off.

It is essential that you uphold the boundary that you are the parent and she is the child. There is no room for you to try to be her friend. It is vital that you be the parent. She will appreciate it when she is older. Especially when she becomes a parent herself; the example you set for her will guide her in her journey as a parent. The good example that you set will carry on for many generations.

Elena Wright of north Jefferson County has a masters degree in counseling from UAB and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Birmingham-Southern College. She has been a high school counselor and then opened her own parent coaching business. She served as a site director, parent group leader, and teen mentor with Safe Harbor Ministry. Currently she is working as an RN, but her deepest passion has always been to work with teens and their parents.

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