Leon C Pereira PhD
Clinical & Behavioral Psychologist
45-955 Kamehamema Hwy, Suite 401
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
The fundamental principle in effective parenting is consistency. Consistency lays the foundation for stability, self-control, and responsibility in children. You must be consistent in your expectations and consequences. It is better to have structure with some flexibility than too much or too little structure.
To begin with, your children should know what you expect from them regarding their conduct, schoolwork, and chores. By communicating expectations and consequences in advance, you will find it much easier to enforce your rules and guidelines. You must do this because it is the only way to avoid inconsistency on your part and avoidance or manipulation on their part.
In constructing your list of rules and guidelines, your guiding question should be "Is this reasonable and appropriate?". If you have more than one child, you should also answer the question, "Is this fair?". These questions are answered within the context of your resources--time, financial, etc. Structure is essential for regular and routine requirements. Additionally, whenever you need to make an "unscheduled" decision about your child's or children's "need" --a purchase, an outing, playtime, etc., ask yourself the same questions. If the answer is "yes, this is reasonable, appropriate, and fair" then say "yes"; if not, say "no" and stick with it.
Here's an analogy to clarify why consistency is so important. Think of your child's whining, begging, tantruming, and the like as similar to the behavior of a telephone solicitor or door-to-door salesperson. If every single person hangs up or closes the door on the salesperson, that salesperson would have to go into some other line of work. This is because the salesperson would never get the attention he or she seeks and would never make a sale. However, if even 1 person out of 10, 20, 30, or even more gave the salesperson attention and/or made a purchase, the salesperson has reason to keep contacting and manipulating people. Sooner or later, someone is going to give in!
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