All of a sudden I hear my toddler “meow” and a bunch of noise. Lately, she has been bringing more and more stuffed animals into her bed for nap and nighttime. Honestly, it has gotten a little ridiculous, her bed is literally full. However, I have always made it clear that “friends” in the bed are for comfort and to snuggle, not to play with when sleeping (especially when I realized it was the culprit of her refusing naps refusing naps. So like always, before I left her room I reminded her of the rule.
So here I am trying to get the kitchen clean when I hear her “meow” and I look at the monitor and see her standing up and playing with her friends. I really don’t want to go take her friends, like seriously don’t. She was honestly playing nicely and both kids were down and I knew that taking her friends could lead to a fit and waking up her sister. However, I gave myself a little pep talk, walked upstairs, explained why I had to take her friends, and took them. I know there are some of you reading this who might not agree with my rule of not letting her play with her “friends” in bed and that’s okay! It isn’t about the punishment or the rule at all, it’s about following through with what you say.
I feel like it is important to start with this small side note. How you parent is completely up to you, and so are consequences. To be honest, I originally titled this post Following Through With Consequences but didn’t want that to scare you away! Often when we think of consequences, we think of the obvious ones like time out. Don’t run away just because you hear the word consequence! Having your child walk away, losing a privilege, calm down on the couch, can all be consequences. It is up to you to decide if and how you will give consequences in your home. But to keep this neutral, I’ll stay away from the word consequences so nobody’s stress rises :).
Why following through is so important
One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is saying “if you do that one more time then… *insert action*”, followed by watching them do it again without following through with what they say. Honestly, saying it two more times and finally doing it is just as bad. What you are telling your child when you do this is:
1. Mommy/daddy don’t mean what they say (which ultimately means a lack of trust). When they trust what you say, it provides security.
2. They don’t have to listen to mommy/daddy.
Trust me when I say I understand addressing behaviors can be really difficult, especially when you have that one person you really want to impress over and you know your child will become upset. Been there! Following through is even more confusing for your child because they just don’t know what to expect from you. Confusion equals more meltdowns and insecurities. If your parenting style is more of a redirecting parenting style and not giving consequences, that is absolutely okay, but stick to it (same idea) and don’t give them an if/then scenario. More consistency equals clearer expectations which equal better behavior.
The more you stick to this consistently, the more your child will listen the first time. So stick with it, and you will see the upside. Don’t get me wrong kids are kids and fits will happen. However, they will happen on a smaller scale.
How to implement following through
You need to model how to be calm in the situation, when you get upset so will they.
Be clear on why you are giving that consequence. (To keep a friend safe, to keep them safe, to keep their body happy) Whatever it is, they need to know why they can’t do something.
Tell them once
If it is a rule they clearly know and clearly know the consequence (hitting, biting, etc.) then give your consequence without warning. These are your serious rules, they already know the consequence, and they need to know you are serious. If it is something fairly new like climbing on the back of the couch, give them the if/then scenario one time and then follow through.
Once you have addressed it, move on. Let them know that you still love them no matter what. You are not giving them consequences because you are being mean, you are giving consequences to keep them or someone else safe.