It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? “To raise great kids, you must be consistent and follow through. Parents who don’t follow through lose all credibility with their children.” I often hear from moms who are struggling with behavior. And one thing I hear regularly is “I know the importance of follow through and consistency in parenting. So, why is following through with consequences so difficult?”
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We have all felt it at one, or perhaps several moments in our parenting journey. That heavy, desperate, feeling of failure when all we really want is for the crying, arguing, yelling, whining, or tantrum to stop!
That awful feeling of defeat grows and grows, because not only do you not have the mental bandwidth to fix the bad behavior, but you know very well that your lack of follow-through is what’s causing the problem.
And so you cave. Again. Giving in to your child’s protests. Again. Doing whatever it is you know will bring a moment’s peace. Again.
Why Is Following Through With Consequences So Difficult
Unfortunately, that moment’s peace is all you’ll get. In a matter of hours, or likely, minutes, you’ll be right back where you started. Facing the same crying, arguing, yelling, whining, or tantrum.
It’s a hamster wheel of bad parenting.
Listen to me, because I have good news! Legit, seriously, life-changing parenting follow through revelation.
There is a reason you aren’t following through. One single reason you just can’t seem to provide the structure and discipline your child needs.
It’s causing you grief, frustration, feelings of failure, and hopelessness.
No more! Take heart, because today, I am going to reveal this truth, so you can squash it and start raising the kids you always dreamed of having. Today is your day to turn a parenting corner.
Following Through is Difficult Because of Fear
The only way to stop whining, tantrums, arguing, crying, yelling, attitude, back-talk, disobedience (and all your other parenting woes) is to let them happen!
This is the very foundation of parenting follow through.
Setting forth a standard or rule, making the consequences known, and then following through on those consequences.
Come. What. May.
The reason this process is so difficult for parents to follow is that they are afraid. Fear is the one thing holding you back from consistency and follow through in your parenting.
Every excuse or reason you could come up with as to why you don’t follow through is going to fall into one of two fear categories.
Right now, we are going to undress and expose these fears, so they become stripped of their power!
Parents Who Don’t Follow Through Fear These Two Things
#1. Fear of Judgement.
Picture this. You’re walking through the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon shopping trip. Things are going alright and you’re feeling good. The sun is shining and you’re in a pretty good mood.
Your 2-year-old is content for a little while. Then you see him start to squirm. You try to distract him and pick up the pace a little, in hopes to get done before trouble starts.
Now he wants to get down to walk. You know it’s not a good idea, but you also know, once you tell him NO, he’s going to get really loud.
The store is full of people and you don’t want to disturb anyone or draw attention, so you tell him he can have a sucker if he sits still just a little while longer.
He’s not pleased. He begins to cry. Then louder. Then louder still. Only now, he’s really mad as well. He’s not just crying, he is throwing down!
You have no food at home, so you give him a sucker and pull out all your distraction tricks as you hustle through the store to get the job done and get outta there!
A couple hours later you both survived and you’re just happy to have made it home.
Only now it’s nap time. The thought of telling him it’s nap time makes you want to go to your room, lock the door, crawl into bed, and pull the covers over your head. Because you know the entire process is about to start all over again.
Now, let’s hit the rewind button and rewrite this movie clip, shall we?
It’s a Saturday afternoon shopping trip. You tell your cutie-pie before going into the store that if he behaves well throughout the entire trip, he can have a reward.
Then you start your shopping, and he gets upset. You tell him that you understand it’s not his favorite thing, but that it is necessary for the family and that you expect him to be pleasant for you and all the other shoppers.
You firmly remind him once more that good behavior will bring a blessing, and bad behavior will not.
He begins to cry, scream, and throw his head back.
Now, you tell him that he has lost his opportunity for a reward and that you hope he’ll do better next time.
AND YOU JUST KEEP SHOPPING.
An old man glances over at the screaming kid. And you just keep shopping.
Another mom’s eyes get wide as she looks at your child to make sure he’s not being tortured. And you just keep shopping.
A cute little girl points to your child and expresses her concern to her own mother. And you just keep shopping.
You hear a Mariah Carey song that you haven’t heard in forever and you dance a little jig in the aisle as you sing along (because… Hello Mariah!)
After about 20 minutes you suddenly realize it got quieter. You glance over at your kiddo to find him resting his head on the shopping cart handle.
You lean over and give him a kiss and tell him how glad you are that YOU get to be his mommy!
Here’s the thing… you must want what is good and right and best for your child MORE than you care about judgment.
When you do what is necessary to train your child, his behavior improves.
When his behavior improves, the judgment stops, because now you are shopping with a well-behaved, fantastic little man who understands that crying, arguing, yelling, whining, and tantrums don’t work.
Who cares if people stare? Who cares if people point? Who in the world cares what anyone thinks? Sure-as-heck not me!!!! And neither should you.
It does not matter.
Your desire to raise a really great kid trumps any fear or embarrassment brought on by the stares of strangers! If it didn’t before, it does now!
#2. Fear of Ruining Your Child.
At least a million times throughout the course of your life as a parent you are going to worry that you are making some horrible parenting mistake that will inevitably ruin your child’s life.
You want him to pick up after himself, but is he going to grow up and tell people what a slave driver you were?
You know he should speak respectfully, but does requiring him to say Yes Ma’am make you a drill sergeant?
It would be so nice if he ate what you wanted him to, but is that forcing him? And won’t that cause an eating disorder?
The truth is… you can not raise the same child twice.
You have absolutely NO WAY of knowing if doing something differently would have produced different results because there is no dress rehearsal.
Our humanity promises that we are going to make mistakes. You will absolutely make parenting mistakes.
However, fear of making those mistakes is going to cause you to make far worse mistakes than necessary if you heed to fear instead of wisdom.
Choose Wisdom Over Fear, Every time!
It’s wise to be responsible. Responsible adults make good choices. He should pick up after himself.
It’s wise to speak respectfully. Employees who carry a bad attitude and disrespect their leadership, get fired. He should speak respectfully to you and others.
It’s wise to eat nutritious food. A person only has one body, after all. Taking care of it is essential to good health. He should eat vegetables.
So why is it, when it comes to making wise and healthy decision on behalf of your child, you allow irrational fear of make-believe consequences to influence your parenting?
Well, for starters, because you’re a good mom. You want more than anything to give your child the very best life possible.
I get it.
However, in order to provide your child with the consistency and follow through he needs, wisdom is going to have to punch fear in the face!
How To Implement Consistency and Follow Through Without Fear.
#1. Stand in solidarity with your child.
When you are at your wit’s end and your heart is breaking. When you know what needs to be done for the sake of your child’s life but are afraid to do it.
Do it anyway.
Cry with your child if you must, but stand strong. Tell him, “I love you too much to not follow through.” Stand in solidarity as you refuse to allow fear to dictate what is wise and in the very best interest of your child’s life and heart.
#2. Read, watch and absorb only biblical parenting resources.
There is so much information floating around on the internet. Much of which is horrible. There are people making a lot of money encouraging you to hide away in a closet until bedtime when you can finally grab a glass of wine and enjoy your life.
Humor has its place. However, if you allow your heart to be flooded with this type of snarky disparage parenting, you’ll be helpless to give your children the consistency and follow through they need.
In this article here, I listed 5 of the most practical parenting books. These books provide real answers and solutions to every parenting problem from birth through teens.
These books are also long and require a lot of study. So to break it down into an overarching process you can more easily wrap your mind around, I wrote “5 Steps” which is an easy read to give you a solid parenting foundation! Get the 5 Steps here.
Common Stumbling Blocks for Parents Who Don’t Follow Through
Once you make the decision to follow through with a consequence, don’t resort to yelling when the crying or tantrum starts!
Remember, you’ll only look like the coolest, most put-together, calm-headed mom on the planet if you walk through the grocery store with your crying child while happily singing along to Mariah. NOT if you are yelling at your child.
Don’t yell. It is counter-productive. Yelling will make his behavior worse, and with every successful follow through your child’s behavior will improve more and more.
Making the desire to yell, less and less!
Don’t yell. Just don’t.
#2. Explanation Station.
Many moms that I talk to, fall into the trap of feeling the need to explain decisions to their children.
Do not talk your parenting convictions to death with your child. His cognitive ability is not there. Simple cause and effect are the best explanation you can give him.
“This is happening because of this.” “You are getting a sucker because you displayed great behavior in the store.” “You may not have a cookie, because you chose not to eat your food.”
Period. End of story. A+B=C. Done.
#3. Bad Parenting Attitude.
No one owes you anything for being a good parent. Self-care is important. It’s also your responsibility.
When you are at the end of your rope, take a step back. Do not allow yourself to be snappy, fussy, short, or mean to your child because you can’t take anymore.
Follow through will lead to better behavior. Better behavior leads to a happier mommy. Until you start to see that better behavior, own your responsibility as the mom to maintain a good attitude while training your child.
Parenting Follow Through is Possible.
Fear of jumping off a cliff is real. Fear of judgment and ruining your child is a lie.
The real dangers of bad parenting lurk when you allow fear to stop you from being consistent and following through.
Judgment has no power unless you give it power. You will not ruin your child with appropriate consequences. See here for help coming up with those consequences. On the other hand, you could be just a few good-parenting-steps away from turning your whole family around!