“Stick to your plan” may be the key to parenting!
Maybe the best parenting advice ever…..”Stick to the plan!”
As I was talking to a Mom the other day, I realized how often I said, “Just stick to your plan” or “Be consistent”, or “Stay on this track”. Much of my encouragement to parents centers on finding a plan or routine and sticking to it! From a discipline plan, to helping a child handle their tantrums and intense feelings, to getting up and moving for school in the morning and getting to bed at night, and even encouraging children to eat something besides chicken nuggets; having a plan and being consistent as a parent is the key to your child’s success in all of this! Wow, one simple answer!!
Seems pretty simple right? Not really…having a plan and actually implementing it in your family’s life can be a real challenge. Parents have to communicate to be sure Mom and Dad are both on board with “the plan”. Sometimes other caregivers need to be included in “the plan” too. Everyone needs to buy into “the plan” in order for your child to understand it. It is difficult to react in the same way to a tantrum at 8:00 in the morning as you do at 5:00 in the evening when you and everyone else is hungry and tired! It feels impossible to react to a waking child at 1:00 am, 2:30 am and 4:00am consistently without breaking down and rocking him back to sleep, but that “sticking to the plan” is what teaches your child good sleep habits! “Sticking to the plan” is one of the biggest challenges of parenting but one that will reap great benefits for you and your child.
Often we are impatient, if a plan doesn’t work the first or second day we give up! Remember, most sleep plans, discipline plans, new routines, or any change must be implemented consistently for 4 or 5 days before you will see if it is working! Consistently means every single time….even when you are tired! This consistent approach results in a child who understands the plan, knows what is expected, and knows what the consequences or positive reinforcement is with the plan! It is only fair to your child to know what your expectations are and what your reaction is when expectations are met or not met. Changing things up constantly results in a child who is less secure, more anxious, and often pushing the limit to see if you will set one.
So, the secret in parenting might just be “sticking to the plan”…..simple right? Simply said, but it takes a lot of parenting effort….but the results are amazing.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
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