BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK
Children thrive when structure is in place. Dozens of parent educators agree that when children know what to expect on a consistent basis, they are more likely to behave as directed. However, when children’s home lives are unpredictable due to family conflict, lack of parental supervision, and/or discipline tactics that change from day to day, their behavior suffers and they often find themselves making poor choices because they lack guidelines on what to expect. If you want to have a more manageable child, begin to better manage the life you make for them by being consistent. Read the tips below to find out how.

Consistent discipline

Think about how you discipline your child. Are your ways consistent or do they vary, depending on your mood? For example, if you are tired, you may just yell at your child if he refuses to clean his room. However, if you are angry, you may take away his cellphone for the next 10 days. When children are raised this way, they are less likely to make smart decisions in regards to their behavior because they are not sure of the consequences. A child who knows what consequence he will receive can, at least, reason and decide whether or not a negative action is worth the consequence. Therefore, make it easier for your child to decide whether he should do well. Just as a driver considers the consequences for running a red light, allow your child to consider the results of his inappropriate actions and choose wisely.

Consistent homework help

Some parents start the school year as a strong homework helper only to lessen the amount of time they spend helping with homework as the school year progresses. If that is you, make homework time in your household a routine in order to give your child practice on what he learns in class, and do it on a consistent basis. If you are short on time, you may have your child complete his homework in the kitchen while you are cooking. If you work evenings, you may delegate the responsibility of homework help to an older, responsible relative. Regularly follow whichever method you choose so your child will complete his homework regularly as well.

Consistent reflection

As a teacher, I have learned many things through trial and error. For example, I learned that fourth graders listen 50 percent better when they are not allowed to use mechanical pencils. Parenting is often a learn-on-the-job experience, and you will find that what works for some parents may not work for you. Therefore, refrain from regularly implementing systems that do not benefit your family. For example, if you have implemented “family movie night” each week for the past three months and your children still aren’t any closer, you may decide that “family game night” would help them learn more about each other since they have more opportunities to interact.

The only way to arrive at such decisions is through reflection. Take the time to consider the measures you use to raise your children. Continually monitor the techniques you use to raise your children and be consistent with the measures that work.

Remember that consistency is a critical factor in a child’s world. It brings them order, especially in communities that generally lack it. Therefore, provide your children with consistency and structure, giving direction to their lives and their future.

China Hill is a curriculum writer for KIPP Ascend Charter School on the West Side.