Do you ever have days as a parent where around every corner is another mess to greet you? Does even a simple meal at the dinner table turn into a battle of wills? Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever done, but it is also the most difficult. One aspect of parenting I find especially challenging is consistency, but it also is critical to success as a parent. Even as early as age one or two, kids will test you, manipulate you, and use every other weapon at their disposal to throw you off balance. Parenting is like a game where you must anticipate your opponent’s next move. Sometimes the target is missed in this game of parenting, but the best tactic is to pick yourself up and try again to reach the goal.
Today the thought of running away from my kids for some peace and quiet crossed my mind several times. I love my kids, and they are good kids, but I am exhausted! My two older children were on top of their game in full force against their mommy. They continually played in water, covered each other in toothpaste from head to toe, swung toys around the dance pole, fought, refused to listen, threw food at the dinner table, and my list goes on and on. Since the birth of their baby sister in early December my kids think they can do as they please. I breastfeed the baby, and during these times they test me the most. My initial reaction is to sit and finish nursing their sister, but to be consistent and show who is boss I must stop what I do. Today, several times this occurred, and my poor baby would cry in protest. There were many time outs, toys were taken away, and continual verbal prompts were given to redirect them to a better decision path. I realize a new baby is a cause for adjustment, but I need my children to know my expectations of safe, kind and good behavior are still expected.
At the dinner table I tell my children they must eat a given amount of food before they are excused. Failure to follow through on this will make them test be further the next time. At nap time today, my daughter Keira refused to remain quiet and behave. I told her if I had to come back to her room she would lose her favorite nightlight. She got mad and threw out her stuffed animals. When it was all done I removed everything out of her bed, even her pillow. Throughout the ordeal I remained calm and did not let her stubborn personality get the best of me. After an hour she relented. Consistency is a way to show kids boundaries and respect. Consistency creates a healthy environment for children, and is key to their success later in life.
The game of consistency seems more like a rollercoaster ride that goes between both challenges and wonderful times. I will endure the ride, but at times my ride thrills and frightens me. Along the way I catch snapshots to know my consistency will pay off in the long run. My children are normal, and I am glad they test the waters, because without it how do they learn right from wrong.