Consistency is important because it means predictability; everyone knows the rules and everyone knows the consequences—good and bad. “I do this and I’ll get that.” It’s a simple arrangement.
Simple Becomes Complicated
Limits and boundaries for younger kids are black and white; rules with yes/no answers about TV, candy, and such. It’s all very predictable and comfortable, until the child starts to grow-up and asks, “Why can’t I watch TV?”
Because I Said So (BISS)
In the beginning, your effort to explain won’t satisfy her young mind because she’s only experienced enough to understand the power of her question—not necessarily the answer. After you’ve explained a bit, BISS gets everyone moving again because the child accepts that you’re the expert and that you know best.
Change sneaks up on you
The problem isn’t using BISS; it’s continuing to use it. At some point, this girl will be old enough to understand the rule and can connect her actions before dinner and homework to her appetite and concentration. Yeah! Unfortunately, most adults aren’t looking for signs of this kind of readiness and get comfortable with BISS. It’s easy and quickly cuts-off arguments because it’s not based on reasonableness, it’s based on authority.
“May I have candy, please?”
Evolution in boundaries means an evolution in the questions adults encourage kids to ask. A question with a quick yes/no answer relieves everyone from considering the reasonableness of the request and the consequences of actions. Questions like this lack empowerment and responsibility but come loaded with potential blame, victimization, and resentment should candy or TV not be a good idea right now.
The Evolution of Consistency
Boundaries evolve into a system for evaluating reasonableness, appropriateness, and consequences. Consistency is in the thinking process required by everyone to assess the reasonableness of actions. Asking your child to first evaluate her requests empowers her. Unlike the boundaries needed for young children, now, with reasonableness as the boundary, your child begins to practice real-life decision-making.
You’ll need to teach her how to think this way and what defines reasonable. Start with the easy little things, like candy or TV, and start as early as you possibly can. The more practice she has with the little things now the easier it will be for you later as you influence her determination of reasonableness when she starts to date and drive. YIKES!
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