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One thing that all children (big or small!) benefit from – consistent and predictable parenting

We are all routine driven. While many of us might like to think we are spontaneous and wild, the reality is that we frequently are following a predictable pattern of behaviours in any given day. Much of this is due to meeting our basic biological needs (sleeping, eating, toileting), but one of the main reasons we stick to our routine is because it is psychologically exhausting trying to decide what to do all the time. What do I feel like doing? Should I be doing this? Am I doing this right? Will it be ok if I do this thing?

And our children are no different.

Creating consistency and predictability in your child’s life is a really important way to help them regulate and explore their world. By providing clear expectations, we are helping them understand what is expected of them, but importantly, that we will be there to nurture and support them when they fail. So what does this look like in practice?

– Being consistent and predictable in providing care and affection, and with providing consequences. This is critical – our children need to know that our love for them is there and accessible, and it flows freely. They also need to know that if we have reasonable expectations, that we can calmly follow through with consequences if they are not met

– Follow through – on the nice and not so nice stuff. If you say you are going to come watch them play a game, do so. If you say you’re going to take their phone for the evening, do so

– It does NOT mean being boring! This isn’t about sticking to a strict routine that has to look the same. It is about being able to keep the core ideas the same, even if the context changes (e.g. what you provide them, and what you expect of them, in one context is similar to another)

Previously we wrote about the importance of your relationship with your child, and consistent and predictable responding is the backbone of this. Don’t expect you’ll get it right all the time – you’re a human! This is about trying to get it right more often than not, and as often as you are able

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At ConnectEd Counselling and Consultancy, we believe that all families, and the communities they belong to, benefit from a little extra care and support. Whether the problems are big or small, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to feel connected – to themselves, to others and to their community. We offer counselling services to young people and families and have immediate availability. If you need some support, get in touch here:

(Written by: Dr Matt O’Connor)

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