THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 28

August 2013
28 •
Texas Home School Coalition Review
Is Not Just
for Kids
 often get asked
the same question: “How do you
get your children to mind you and do it so cheerfully?!”
My reply is always the same: “Be consistent!” No matter what your
discipline of choice, being consistent is the real key to success!
In order for our children to understand the boundaries, we create
consequences. Consequences are what happen when a boundary is
breached. They should happen exactly like you tell them they will—every
time. It is the consequence that makes my children want to follow my
instructions, and it is my consistency that makes them cheerful about it.
We all have different boundaries and guidelines for our families.
Some moms make their children clear the table after dinner; others let
the dishes sit around until late at night when everyone is asleep and
then go in and clean. Neither way is wrong. We are each unique, and our
family limits should be too. The question is, “Do you know what your
boundaries are?”
If you tell your child to pick up his clothes, does he know you mean
it? Or does he know that he really does not have to because you will tell
him again in five minutes, then again with a firmer tone until you yell;
he has to do it? If that is your pattern, then that is the boundary
you have set. You have consistently taught him that he gets three
warnings and an angry parent before he has to pick up his clothes.
When I realized that was happening in our home, I also realized
I could change the boundaries. If I had a line that the kids knew they
could not cross—why could
I not just move the line? I
could just tell them once;
then, if they didn’t obey,
I would follow through
immediately with con-
Say what? It
can’t be that easy!
but it is.
Try this: The next
time you tell your child
to do something,
follow the verbal
instruction with a
consequence. For
instance, “Put your
shoes on right
now, or you will
have to miss base-
ball practice.”
(Think it through
first. Be sure it’s
a consequence
which you are
willing to follow
through with. If you
really cannot miss base-
ball practice, offer something
different.) Then, if he doesn’t jump
to put his shoes on—even if he lingers for a few seconds in rebellion to
your instruction—he misses practice. Bam. Done.
The sad truth is that if he does not put his
shoes on, he doesn’t believe that you will
do what you said. That, my friends, is the
worst part of being inconsistent. If he
does not believe you about the base-
ball practice, then what else does
he not believe? Does he believe you
when you tell him how smart he
is? Does he believe you when you
teach him that math is important?
Does he believe you when you tell
him Christ died for him?
Tell your child the truth. If you say,
“You cannot have any candy at the store,”
then mean it. Do not give in to whines and
fits. Doing so not only leads to a miserable family
life; it teaches your child that you cannot be trusted. I know it seems
more complicated than that, but really it’s not. If your child’s cries of
injustice have no effect on your decisions, then he will stop crying.
I have seen parents get quite angry and frustrated and blame their
whiny, screaming children for the problems. I want to wrap my arms
around them all and say, “If he is whining to get what he wants, then he
knows it will work. You can gently teach him to stop doing that by telling
him no and meaning it—every time.”
Stop the madness!
Being consistent is actually pretty easy. It’s really more about training
yourself than training your kids. Instead of yelling from the other room
for themto stop fighting, get up immediately and godeal with it.When he
argues about not getting his way, be unaffected. Whines do not matter—
truth matters. If you teach yourself to follow through with what you
say—every time, immediately—your children will fall right in with you.
The best news is that in addition to having a more peaceful, pleasant
home, you will build trust with your children. Once you have become
consistent with your boundaries and truthful in your follow-through,
your children will believe you when you tell them howmuch they are loved.
Lisa and her husband James live on a family farm
outside a little Texas town with their nine kids
and a whole herd of animals with which they have
no idea what to do. It’s an adventure they never
expected, filled with moments of greatness and
moments of wondering why no one can remem-
ber to put their shoes away. In addition to home
schooling and doing laundry, Lisa runs an Etsy
shop with her daughters and blogs about it all at
Lisa Pennington
We all have
different boundaries
and guidelines for
our families.
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