How to Make Your Child Listen to You – Consistency

In one of the previous articles I tried to explain how important it is to have authority when you want your child to listen. Now let's deal with another important factor in parent-child communication – consistency.

Consisteny is extremely important when it comes to establishing and keeping your authority, especially when we talk about two integral parts of children’s upbringing: punishments and rewards.

Prohibition is a part of parenting that precedes the punishment.

Something is forbidden because it is dangerous and can jeopardize child’s health, safety or even life and your child is not old enough to understand how something enjoyable can be harmful. You forbid your toddler to put fingers into a socket, your five-year-old to cross the street on his own and your teenage daughter to stay out late. If your children turn a deaf ear to what you’ve strictly forbidden, you have to punish them.

Punishment is as unpopular among parents as it is among children.

It is not easy to punish your beloved children even when you know that you are doing it for their own good. Parents threaten their kids with punishment so that they would be taken seriously, but it often happens that they don’t follow through on what they’ve said. If a child shows a trace of remorse or tearfully promises to “never do that again,” a sense of guilt creeps up and you start to question your decision and to wonder if you are too strict.

Mother Reading Book In The park

You reduce the penalty and justify it by telling yourself that it’s “only this one time,” but you are making a serious mistake. However, it usually doesn’t work that way. Guided by the fear that you won’t be loved, next time your children disobey – you do the same thing.

As a result, the kids gradually stop listening to what you are saying because they are not taking you seriously. Also, they become aware of how easily manipulated you are.

How can you avoid such a scenario? First of all, avoid imposing a penalty while you are angry. Take a few minutes to calm down and think things through. It is better to be mild and stick to your decision than to be harsh and not able to put your words into action.

For example: Your daughter went to a party and you agreed that she should be back by 11pm. However, she arrives after 12 pm. You decide to punish her. It is better to impose a lenient punishment and not allow her to go out for next two weeks, than to be more strict (e.g. not let her go out for four weeks) and then give in because you feel guilty and she is pleading a good case.

Situation is similar when it comes to rewards. If you want your children to listen, don’t make promises you can’t keep. Not only will your children be disappointed, but you will lose their trust and hence, authority.

When you have promised to buy a new pair of sneakers if your child has straight A’s, buy them regardless of how expensive they might be.

Keep your promise, otherwise don’t expect your children to take you seriously. If nothing else, you will learn to be careful when making promises. Don’t forget that children look up to you and that you are their role model.

Bear in mind that you can’t expect your children to respect an agreement if you don’t.

Many examples show how important it is to be consistent if you want your kids to listen and respect what you say. To have authority, you have to be respected, and to be respected you must be consistent.


About the author


I am a devoted hedonist who enjoys nice things – food, wine, fine arts, spending time with friends and family. Teaching mandarin Chinese is my life vocation, but my dream is to open a small restaurant and a patisserie. My life's motto: "Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

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