Many readers have asked for simple ways to help with changing habits around the home.
As I write about the challenges of adopting a consistent parenting style, I'm constantly reminded by readers of the many different changes they feel they want to make in their lives in order to become more consistent within themselves.
For instance, Kathryn suggested that if she was tidier and picked up after herself regularly, then perhaps her children would develop the same habit, while Julie believes that if she was more consistent in enforcing boundaries, her children wouldn't be so argumentative or manipulating.
Changing habits in ourselves is a very effective way of parenting. After all, we are responsible for taking charge of our own lives. It is our responsibility to sort out our own bad habits and to right them. If we don't, then we are expecting our children to follow the rule of do as I say, not as I do! A startling double message and one that's exceedingly difficult to back up!
Consistent parenting follows the notion that we can actually change the world by starting with ourselves! So take a good, hard look at the patterns and habits which have crept into your daily life and make some serious decisions about what needs to change.
Here's a fun way to do that.
Changing Habits -
Enlist your children!
Ways to change old bad habits
Have you noticed that around the age of 7 or 8 children become very good at rules? It is very age appropriate that fair play and correctness become the natural response. If you listen while they play, you can hear them making sure that everyone takes turns, that these are fairly monitored and there is no pushing in! It becomes common also for them to chorus, that's not fair!
So enlist the use of these strategies to make changes in your household, beginning with your own changes first! This provides not only a great example, but is a wonderful modeling technique too.
Let's choose some simple habitual situations such as the decision to make your bed and to pick up your possessions every day. Explain to your children that you would like to become more consistent with changing habits - especially some of your own habits. Suggest that in order to become consistent, you need them to monitor and encourage you.
Ask for their suggestions as to how you could carry this out, and do take what they offer seriously. For instance, if they suggest charting your progress, maybe use a white board. If they would like to reward you with stars, buy the stars. Decide on a time frame - it's best to be no more than a week to begin with.
Changing Habits - Now Do It!
Now do it!
Every morning make your bed and ask them to check that you have.
The interesting by product of this kind of experiment is that often, your children will come up with some great suggestions for changing habits of their own, too. Here is a wonderful opportunity for discussions about being consistent - what being consistent means, and how to implement changes - how good support helps us all to be more consistent and how being reliable and steady in our habits creates wonderful opportunities to have fun. Parenting magic!
These discussions can then lead on to the needs for limits and boundaries and how these could be set. School age children work with boundaries all day in their school settings and thrive on knowing what is expected of them.
To carry this even further, another great suggestion is that the extra time saved by changing habits can be used for playing together - maybe a favorite board game or a shared read aloud session.
By this I mean the parents play with the children!
Over the years my children and I have shared hundreds of hours of fun through spontaneity. maybe this means stopping to play a round of the favorite board game of the moment, or dancing together to our current music of choice!
These become special moments when shared together by parents and children and they are even more important when you realize they are the reward for being consistent in changing habits.
Changing Habits -
What is spontaneity?
Being spontaneous injects a real enthusiasm into parenting - removing it from the dull and boring category to something that can become quite out of the ordinary!
Spontaneity can mean impulsiveness but it also means naturalness -
Being consistent isn't about being rigid it's about doing as you say you will so that your children can trust you to mean what you say.
Consistent parenting actually allows you to become more lively and spontaneous in your parenting simply because you are no longer putting all that energy into nagging. Your children respond to changing habits and more consistency by playing their role more productively and so they too have more energy for joy, fun and playfulness.
An Example of Spontaneous Parenting:
I invented a whole raft of characters into our family life on a daily basis to encourage, teach and allow for spontaneity within our daily lives.
If everyone was co-operating, pulling together and being helpful, then I would suddenly announce that we all had to go off and visit Great Uncle Albert together. No-one was ever sure quite what this would mean or where we would end up!
One day, for instance, I discovered a really odd tunnel which ran under the road and was I believe used for delivery of goods to different parts of our local hospital. Without offering any explanation we all piled into the car and drove to the beginning of the tunnel. Joining hands we skipped right to the end then turned around and skipped all the way back, into the car and home in time for tea!
So what, you might say?
Simply because there was no rhyme or reason for it, the children came to delight in these odd activities and to treasure these sometimes strange journeys as a sure and certain part of our family life. These are the real treasures of parenting - these free, sublime moments of pure fun!
It would be great of you could write in with ideas that your family has come up with to implement consistent behavior in your home through changing habits that are past their use by date!
Do contact me
with your ideas and I will publish them for others to use and enjoy also.
Read More About Consistent Parenting:
BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR
||Rectify Your Own Behavior
Rectify Your Own Behaviour
and Half the Battle is Won! As parents we model behaviour for our children to follow.
It stands to reason that if a child repeatedly sees their mother or father act out of control, then they will copy and mimic this behaviour.
Responsive parents, who discipline young children with consistent, firm and clear guidelines, reflect their ability to make good choices in their own adult life.
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