Shabbat of Sanctity Dirshu’s 20th Anniversary International Convention

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WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO BE CONSISTENT, AND WHAT HAPPENS TO CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS ARE NOT?

By: Tammy Sassoon



We hear the word “consistency” thrown around a lot. This article addresses both how important
it is to be consistent and how to go about being consistent.

Let’s think about how we as adults respond to consistency, or the lack of it. Consider the following scenario:

A nearby grocery store gives out raffle tickets as door prizes; they announce two winners per day. Though you don’t love the selection the store holds, you decide to try shopping there. Within a two-month period, you win twice! Although it’s not your favorite store, you decide to keep shopping there, because you calculate that you can win about one in every ten times you shop there. Imagine that. If this grocery store never had these raffles, you’d never shop there, but because they do, even though you know that nine out of ten times you won’t win, it becomes worthwhile to keep going. After all, you never know when you might hit the jackpot! Typically,nobody would keep shopping in a store he or she dislikes if they have nothing to gain – but when they might, it’s a different story.

The above example illustrates a situation that is not consistent, and the natural outcome of it.

Here’s how it relates toparenting: Children will keep on whining to get what they want if they know there is a small chance of getting it even once in awhile. If your child knows that when he or she tantrums at home you ignore it, but in a store you give in so as not to make a scene, it becomes worthwhile for them to act up there. After all, they never know when they might hit the jackpot again! On the other hand, if your child knows with certainty that there is never a time that you’d give in to a tantrum, it no longer becomes worthwhile for them to try one anywhere.

Let’s relate it to our lives again. If we knew that one out of every ten times we asked for adiscount, the store manager would say, “Okay, just this time,” wouldn’t we keep trying? Of course we would; all in the chance that he’ll say “yes” again! Our kids are the same. If they know that most of the time when they tantrum, whine, or complain, theywill gain nothing, but every now and then they will gain something, it becomes worth it for them to keep trying.

We must be consistent about whatever limits we set. Children need to know that when they behave in undesirable ways, the outcome is always the same. (A calm and firm “no” goes much further than raising our voices or showing that we are upset.)

Our kids need to know
that they will never,
ever get what they want by:

1.Asking why someone else got something
    and they didn’t.

2.Complaining.

3.Throwing a tantrum.

4.Asking for something in a whiny voice.

 

We tell kids that we do not allow for any of these behaviors because it’s not good for them; it doesn’t encourage them to be happy with what they have! Instead, teach your children to:

1  Be happy with what they have. Preaching
     doesn’t work. You have to model this by
     showing that you are truly happy with your
     lot in life.

 

2  Ask for what they think they need or want,
     with the knowledge that sometimes
     parents say “yes” and sometimes parents
     say “no.”

If you haven’t been consistent until now, it’s never too late to start. Tell your children that you realize that your lack of consistency has not been helpful to them and that you are changing your ways. Some children will keep trying their luck for a long time after this announcement gets made, while some will see after a few tries that it’s never worthwhile to engage in the above-mentioned behaviors. After all, the result is always the same! Show your children consistency and they will learn that misbehaving is never worth a try.