Recently, I overheard some parents contemplating whether a structured routine was necessary for their young child. They felt it didn’t allow their child to create and think on his own. I believe children thrive in a structured environment. For example, when a child learns to brush their teeth they’re learning good hygiene habits.

Lincoln Chaffee, the seventy-fourth governor of Rhode Island, believes “trust is built with consistency.” The more consistent our child becomes the more responsibility we trust them with. A habit is formed by repeating the same structured daily routine. Habits create an internal alarm clock that reminders us to repeat the same actions. This is true of both good and bad habits.

When a parent is an effective role model, children tend to follow their guidance. Creating a structured routine early in a child’s life provides consistent behaviors as they move into adulthood. The bonus of teaching consistency early on is that it also helps prepare them to learn how to receive instruction from school teachers.

In our family, when we are facing a challenge to stay consistent here is what we have learned:

Habits form because of a decision made internally. We reflect on why the decision was made, write it down and review our decisions on a regular basis, especially during times of weakness. This can help bring the focus back. For example, when teaching a child to brush their teeth, you can create a chart and check mark their daily activity.

It takes time, to form a consistent habit. Typically it takes a minimum of 30 days to create a new habit, one that sticks and stays. Teaching children to brush their teeth on a daily basis requires a parent, to become the child’s accountability partner.

When learning something new, embrace mistakes. Recognize mistakes as being crucial in the learning process. If your child forgets to brush their teeth, point it out and encourage them to learn the lesson and move on.

Celebrate the small steps. For example, a week has passed, and your child has brushed consistently all week. Celebrate the small steps to get to the big steps.

Some questions to consider:

  • As a parent, how do you stay consistent?
  • What are some excuses that may be holding you back?
  • Do these excuses help you avoid consistency?

Consistency takes practice and patience. Parenting with consistency is the key to a healthy relationship with your child. Consistent behaviors in parenting will create a better understanding of where you and your child stand.

Crystal Horton is the author of “Stretch Marks, A Mother’s Journey To Awareness.”

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