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Why Be Consistent?

Step By Step Parenting Tips 10

  • Think about a decision prior to giving an answer. Discuss with the other parent and then stick to it

  • While negotiation is a great skill to encourage, attempting to bully you, or intimidate you, is not negotiating

  • Be consistent in what you allow, rather than let it be determined by your moods

  • Back one another's decisions. If you disagree discuss it later & not in front of the children

Children are quick to spot inconsistencies in their world.

For example: Inconsistency can occur between home and school. Or between parents and grand parents, or in-laws. And it can also occur between the child's two parents, especially if parents no longer live together and the relationship is non-cooperative.


If parents find new partners there can be a number of other people to factor in as well.

Kids can quickly learn to play one parent against another, particularly if there's animus between them.

It's most likely a child will make a request from the parent they think they'll have more chance of getting a 'Yes' from, first. 


But sometimes this parent doesn't have all the information to make a good decision and can inadvertently agree, causing a chink between the parents about what's acceptable.

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Dad and Son Biking

Sometimes a child will get a 'No' first, so they'll go to the other parent hoping for a different outcome.

This can be more common when parents live apart. One parent might agree a child can go to a party, while the other might not. And if both parents don't communicate effectively and resolve issues reasonably, the child can be the one who pays.

The child learns to 'play the gap,' to get what they want. And if they get away with it, as they mature, boundaries can cease to exist.

We see this between school and home as well.

A child can say they don't have to do homework. And if the parent takes that as the truth, without checking, the child has created a chink. Or they may say they got into trouble because the teacher doesn't like them.

I can recall a child making an allegation: That an experienced teacher, (who had never had a complaint made against them before,) had hit them with a book. Considering the teacher was on a school excursion when the alleged incident occurred, and didn't even have a book with them, it was impossible. The child eventually fessed up they'd made it all up.


Now I'm not saying don't believe your children. But in this instance if the parent had believed the child without checking it out, it could have resulted in a vexatious allegation being made against a wonderful teacher.

But the child may also have ended up will a negative outcome if they'd gotten away with it.


It would have shown the child involved, you can say malicious things about anyone. The child would have created a gap between the parent and the school. And over time their education may suffer because the parent is uninformed or even hostile.


But if they made an allegation about a teacher, what's to stop them doing something similar to someone else, including their parents.

Football Team Coach

Consistency Can Take Different Forms.

  • Consistency in child-rearing ideas, especially between parents (and ideally with extended family as well) helps kids develop a good idea of what acceptable behaviour is.


You're setting your child up to challenge you if you are inconsistent with one another. If mum says 'No' and dad says 'Yes' the child may learn to play one of you against the other.


A good strategy is: If you're not sure what the other parent thinks about an issue, postpone your decision until you've discussed it. But if the child pushes either one of you for an answer say 'Sorry, if you need to know right now it'll have to be a no but if you're prepared to wait until I chat with....'


Father and Son
Phone Cases

  • Consistency with rules and expectations, and between children helps kids see you're fair.


Don't laugh at a child one day for doing something that you might frown upon another day. Acceptable behaviour for your children shouldn't be determined by your mood.


  • Say 'Yes' to all you feel comfortable saying yes to. Use your value system to help determine what is acceptable and what isn't. Distract young children if necessary. Listen to and negotiate with children as they grow. But once you say 'No' it sets your child up to challenge you if you change your mind because they persist.


Think before you answer.

Don't say 'No' because you're in a bad mood.

Explain why it's a 'No.'

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_Child boy yelling kid screaming looking

The Value of Negotiation

Negotiation is a wonderful skill to develop in a child. It teaches them to be logical, fair minded, conciliatory and to express themselves well.


But challenging you, intimidating you, screaming at you, bullying you is not negotiation. And it can set up a pattern of behaviour that can continue over years.


We likely all know someone who continues to bully their parents into adulthood.

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You could ask if there's a compromise option or another choice that might be more acceptable to you if you think what they're asking for is unreasonable.


But if your child persists and begins to try to intimidate or bully you, you may need to put natural consequences in place... like removing privileges.​

My 6-year-old son drew my attention to a mistake I made and I never forgot it.

I asked him why was he continuing to push to get his way, once I'd said 'No'. I continued with, '...You know I think about things and we discuss it before I make up my mind. Have I ever changed my mind because you kept pushing it.'

He looked up at me through his eyelashes, smiled and said, 'You did once...'

For more Best Parenting Advice on behaviour, check the links below:

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This website provides examples of what worked for me over decades and you are welcome to use these ideas as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. Best Parenting does not provide any guarantee that this information will work in every circumstance with every family or with every child. It is your responsibility as a user of this website to ensure that you adhere to any recommended safety suggestions either implicit or explicit on this site and supervise your children while playing any games suggested. Similarly users of this website are advised to follow any recommendations for seeking professional advice as all information on this site is generic. Best Parenting is an independent website and is not affiliated with any other groups, clubs, religious organizations or educational systems.


Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.

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