Parenting is also about being CONSISTENT ? consistent caring, consistent control, and consistent monitoring where needed. Children need to be cared for, given rules and structures for how to behave, along with being encouraged to explore the world on their own terms ? consistently. This means daily, even hourly. (And yes, you can have bad days without ruining your kids.) Difficulties are ever-present, from finances to traffic jams to custody issues ? and simply not having enough time in the day; but it takes moments, not hours, to convey love and caring.
Caring and Consistency are not about collecting stuff, and do not require any expensive food, toys, or clothing. There are thousands of websites that will sell the ?best? toys and the ?best? books and the ?best? games for making your child a musical genius or a mathematical prodigy. Believe it if you must, but don?t fret if you don?t have the money to buy all this stuff.
We know that creativity often begins with children taking sticks and rocks and discarded boxes and making up their own games. Mechanical toys break down; but simpler toys such as different sizes of building blocks, let kids make up their own structures ? a creative, mind-building activity. Some toys such as Legos now have their own complex creations with step-by-step instructions ? a very non-creative activity. This is not a step forward, in my view.
Being Consistent is somewhat like the basics of losing weight?all of us like to think that this type of tea or the newest diet pill will work its magic and make us lose 20 pounds without having to change our diet or exercise habits. Most of us have learned that it just ain?t so, Joe.
We still have to pay attention to the basics of calorie control and good exercise if we expect to make any diet work for very long. The same applies to parenting?.pay attention to the basics of caring and consistency through all the ups and downs, and your children will flourish.
CONSISTENCY simply means:
Establish structures that add stability and a sense of security to their routines. Your daily routine might include having breakfast together, after-school cookies, helping with dinner, doing homework, regular bedtime with stories and hugs.
Get them (and you) to school, church and other appointments on time, which teaches time management without lecturing.
Plan ahead by talking about their weekly and daily schedules, which develops and strengthens their executive functions of logic, planning and organization.
Allow for ?free? time to encourage independence and creativity.
Reduce nagging by letting them fail sometimes ? i.e., no homework completed results in a failing grade, which means they can?t stay over with a friend on Friday night.
You will note that there are many sources of free and low-cost information about good nutrition, food allergies, managing tantrums, and activities of all types. You can find them at the local library, on the Internet, and even free magazines and pamphlets in grocery stores.
If you don?t have a computer at home, go to the library and (while your kids participate in a story-telling activity) use the library computers to search for parenting websites and magazines, local activities at parks, free days at museums, and other options close to you. There are also many parenting classes made available by schools and various other organizations ? take advantage of them.