Discipline & Guidance
Consistency: The Key to Well-Behaved Children
March 13, 2012
University of Alabama

Positive Discipline

What does “consistency” mean?
Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same from one time to another. Consistency makes the child’s world predictable and less confusing. It frees their minds of worry about what might happen and teaches them accountability for their actions.

Why is consistency important?

  • Consistency gives a child a sense of security. They learn they can rely on their parents and trust that their needs will be met. This helps in the bonding process.
  • Children with consistent parents experience less anxiety.
  • Developing a daily routine with regular rising times, bedtimes, after school schedules, and meal times will cultivate a more peaceful home life.
  • Consistency helps a child develop a sense of responsibility because they know what their parents expect from them.
  • Children who have consistent rules with predictable consequences are less likely to “push the limits” and constantly test their parents by misbehaving. They learn quickly that “no” means “no”.
  • Investing early in consistent parenting pays off huge dividends later. There will be considerably less temper tantrums, arguing and bargaining as the children grow.
  • Without consistency children must “guess” daily what actions are appropriate. They wonder if everything that takes place happens because he or she did something to make it happen.
  • Inconsistent parenting causes confusion, poor self esteem and oftentimes very negative values.

How can I be a more consistent parent?

  • Consider carefully what values are important to you and your family and make your rules accordingly. Setting up too many rules for young children will overwhelm both you and them. Pick three or four to start with and increase them as your child matures.
  • Make certain the rules and consequences you set in place are ones you are prepared to enforce.
  • Life is hectic and some days it seems easier to just let some things slide. However, by doing this you are giving your child an incentive to push boundaries and test your limits.
  • Both parents will not always agree upon every rule and consequence. Talk these issues over privately and strive towards a workable compromise.
  • Remember to be consistent with your praise of positive behaviors. This teaches your child what pleases you and reinforces appropriate conduct.
  • Some parents find that developing reward charts using stickers or stars help them to remain on track. If this doesn’t work for your family try something else such as posting a list of rules and consequences where they can be easily seen.
  • Each child has a unique temperament. Adjust your approach to fit the child. Some children are easily guided while another may be somewhat stubborn and persistent.

It takes a great deal of patience and determination to parent consistently. However, watching your children develop into secure, responsible, and confident young adults is well worth it!