Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Consistency

Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

One of RIE tenets focuses on the need for consistency and routine. Building a routine can help a child anticipate what's next. If they can anticipate what's next they can begin to be an active participant instead of a passive recipient. This active participation is, of course, another one of the RIE tenets. Children need and crave consistency. As adults we need and crave consistency, too. Having consistency helps us to feel secure. If we can anticipate what is going to happen, we don't have to worry about it.

Though it is easy to see the benefits of consistency it is not always easy to practice. As adults we enjoy the consistency of larger daily routines such as our job, our bed, our people, or our favorite foods. We may not notice little things that matter to children- particularly preschoolers who are becoming very aware of their surroundings. Changes in our daily routine can be good for children- they can learn to anticipate and process change as well as consistency- but it is important to be aware that those changes can potentially be met with struggle or worry from your child.


There are many reasons that we aren't always consistent. When we feel frustrated or angry it's easy to slide out of consistency and into acting in the moment. We can sometimes offer up a rule that we aren't willing to follow through on but not realize our unwillingness until it's too late. Other times we may leave consistency behind because the day is hectic or crazy and it's just easier to do something else this one time. Though consistency is important, it's also important to remember that life can catch us off guard. We should strive for consistency, but not beat ourselves up when we don't reach our goals.

What can you do when you feel you aren't being consistent, though? You can be authentic if the situation warrants it, and let your child know that you didn't like the way your last exchange happened. You can let them know you'd like to try again. This not only is a real and authentic way to approach your child but gives them a model to go by when they have moments they'd like to do-over. If the situation doesn't feel appropriate for a do-over moment, you can make a note to yourself about how it could go differently next time.

In my personal life and my work life I have always felt that my relationships with children are just that: relationships. Building the bond with the child allows there to be room for mistakes. Both on their part and mine. Forgiveness, trying again, and working to be our best is all part of life. Clearly defining the environment around us will help us to work towards our goal of consistency.

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