Following Through

One of the hardest parts of parenting is developing our own will to not waffle back and forth on “following through” in discipline.  We really can learn to  follow through calmly on what we said we would do when a child does something that is not part of the rules in our family.

To do this, I think one has to have in mind what the rules of the house or family actually are, and also the developmental expectations for that age.   Think to yourself:  can this child of this age meet the rules of the house or family, and in what way?  What is my part in this as the parent, and what is my child’s part?  The younger the child is, the more it is up to you to help the child.

Then, you have to have a set thought in mind of how you will meet this situation calmly when your child is not following the rules and values of your family.  If you are very wishy-washy, you may need to make yourself a list of the child’s behavior and how you will respond just so you can be consistent and fair. It may help you avoid the really silly things that come out of a parent’s mouth, such as “You are grounded for life you twelve year old!”

This sounds easy, but isn’t it so difficult in the moment when your child is moaning, groaning, complaining, wailing?   All of that  can make us want to back down, or soften what we said at first and what we know is right in our hearts, which really undermines our authority.

It is part of parenting that sometimes we make mistakes and we need to change what we originally said – but if we continually back down and change what we said, give a million “chances” to make things right –  then we are undermining our own authority.  Our children learn that our words have no impact upon their behavior and the good of the family suffers for it. Asking a child to do or not do something fifteen times is not good!

For parents who are struggling with this, I suggest you make a list of what behaviors are really problematic and challenging right now, what you are going to do to help guide your child and meet your child where they are and lift them up to the next level, and then what will happen when the boundary is just plain broken.

Are you following through?

Many blessings,


9 thoughts on “Following Through

  1. So important. It’s easiest to think of it as a matter of prevention. Following through now helps to prevent whining, defiance, non-compliance, wheedling, and more. That’s because each time we back down when a child challenges us with whining, defiance, non-compliance, or wheedling we’re teaching our children that these behaviors are effective. We’re rewarding exactly the behavior we don’t want to see.

    In our family we left open our options to back down on certain occasions by telling our kids we might reconsider if they gave us three good reasons. And by good we didn’t mean, “I really really waaant to!” Eventually this turned out to be much too inspiring. Our kids became rather astute advocates for themselves. Our oldest actually said things like, “I think this activity will be a good challenge for me and help me mature, and that’s what we both want.” Yikes. So we’ve stopped asking them for three reasons. They’re still more logical and think of how to present things to us in order to get their own way. At least it isn’t whining!

  2. My mother would reconsider if we had a good reason. She would simple tell us that we had made her reconsider. It made for a conversation, one that I can still use today when I need help with decisions.
    I am very careful with this and my girls. Especially the little one, she is more likely to get stuck on an idea and refuse to change. There are days I can tell it is worse and I know I need to pick my battles, before I comment. The best best most helpful tactic I have is that I have always counted down from five when I seriously need the girls to cooperate, now. And I have always followed through. Now all I have to say is “five”, and Hazel realizes whatever she is doing, is not gonna happen.

  3. I’ve been working on making sure that I present things as a (gentle) statement, rather than a question. Not “let’s eat breakfast, okay?” but instead “Time for breakfast.” I realized I’ve been asking my son a lot of questions, and therefore opening up issues for debate that really are not open.

    • Meda,
      To me “uplifting” has two components – knowing what is developmentally appropriate for a given age, so one can start to help a child who may be a bit stuck to move upward and the other part is knowing the rules in your house and how to uplift a child to help meet those rules by following through.
      I don’t know as I have great specific examples in mind, but in meeting boundaries I always think how we move from movement/pictorial imagery in the early years to pointed statements about rules and authority with the six/seven change and onward and how we must adjust our parenting to meet children at different ages. We cannot parent our five year old like a two year old, etc. When a child is displaying a behavior, we help uplift them by showing them what they can do that is right and true and just. That is uplifting.
      Don’t know if that really helps a bit or is as clear as mud. 🙂

  4. Thanks for bringing attention to this important topic!

    I learned follow through from my parents so I guess it comes naturally to me.

    In my house, what I say goes – that means no’s and yes’s. If I say we’re going to the park, we go (even if I feel terrible). If I say we’re staying home, we stay (I do allow for some little victories here and there), and if I say no, she listens. My daughter respects my word and my authority.

    I am a tolerant parent and don’t use time-outs or spankings but I can demand respect because I follow through with what I expect and what I promise. She has learned this from me too and and we are rewarded with a very pleasant and respectful relationship.

  5. Pingback: Family Reunion Planning Step By Step

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