Parenting is a hard gig and one that is constantly posing new challenges. There are those days of frustration and feeling like a failure that somehow we allow to start defining who we are and who our children are without seeing the larger picture. In the trenches of parenthood it’s so easy to not be able to see the forest for the trees, especially when is comes to misbehavior and disciplining your children. But how do you discipline a toddler without being a frustrated parent?
I have found that my own inconsistency not only in discipline, but in every day life leads to the most parental frustrations. I got frustrated with my daughter simply because she asked me to read a book while I was working on trying to get dishes done. I snapped while my toddler was trying to tickle and cuddle her little sister because she was inadvertently hurting her. I get frustrated when I have to repeat myself 1,000 times. I am a frustrated parent when I think my children should know what I want, but don’t do it!
Is inconsistent discipline in correlation with being a frustrated parent?
I fully believe that many times it is. Being a frustrated parent many times seems to stem from not being consistent in disciple and in our answers to our children. So of course we all know the phrase “correlation does not equal causation,” but that doesn’t mean that we cannot test the theory and certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to work on being better parents and improve our relationship with our children!
Why consistency in how we interact with our children matters.
Kids are innately intuitive. They understand basic emotions, routines, and expectations. While they can push boundaries, many times they tend to want to stay in your good graces. So when we stay consistent, our children know what to expect from us. They can trust us. So ultimately, being consistent builds situational and behavioral trust which can ease parent-child frustrations. This type of trust just means that they know what to expect from you, not necessarily that they have respect and trust.
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Therefore, if I am non-chalant about my toddler having an accident in the floor, then she is more likely to come tell me that she pottied in the floor and that we can work together to clean it up. But if I was to yell every time something “bad” happened, then my child might start hiding it from me. But then there is the role of inconsistency.
If we let our kids get away with something one time and the next time they got in serious trouble, then we’re more likely to experience frustrations as parents because our children are acting out and behaving erratically because they might be able to get what they want in that moment.
How to be more consistent while disciplining kids.
If I allow my child to whine and cry and then I give her a sugary treat just because I don’t want her to be crying, I just blurred the line. I had told her no, but showed her what actions would consistently change the outcome. She can trust that her throwing a fit will upset us enough that she can behave in order to then get what she wanted in the first place.
So we not only need to be consistent in our answers, but also know the triggers that our kids have. This is an important part of disciplining. If they know that “no means no” or that we expect them to follow the parameters of what we have set, we have to have follow through with our words and actions.
What happens if I am still a frustrated parent?
Many times I find that if I am being consistent and working at being mindful and intentional, I can still be neglecting other area’s of my own time and my child’s life. I find that when I have told my child “please wait” several times in a row or that I haven’t been playing with or reading to my child enough, that I get frustrated because my child starts acting out.
While the neglect of quality time spent with your children may still not be it, there is usually a trigger for why your child’s behavior is frustrating you. Maybe you just need more me time, which is the total opposite in that you’re spending so much time on your kids, you need time alone.
One of the best tools we have as parents is the ability to think through things rationally even when our kids cannot. So as we evaluate our triggers and our own frustrations, we can typically improve the behavior problems we’re seeing in our families.
Have rough days? We all have them when raising kids.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!