“I was in the bedroom resting as my daughter and friend were playing in the living room and then she kept on getting some water from the fridge and pouring in containers, a habit I had warned her against but she never stopped because I only stopped at threats,” says Patience Asiimwe, mother of two.
She says her daughter’s friend warned her that she was going to get punished for wetting the living room but Asiimwe’s daughter instead told her friend that she always played with water and to be forgiven all she needed to do was say sorry.
Asiimwe says she never punished her because she is not the kind of person who punishes children. All she did was either threaten or talk to them about it.
What she never realised is that she was being inconsistent until her children started taking her for granted. That is the moment she got to know that the problem was not the children but the variations in her parenting style.
Rose Margaret Katengeke, a teacher at Pearl Africa School, Kabalagala, says inconsistency does not only make the child take you for granted but it confuses the child whose brain is fragile and trying to catch up. She advises parents to always be cautious when it comes to their children because these children always obey what their parents say and look up to them so inconsistency may leave them confused.
She gives an example of a child who said that, “teacher always changes her statements, the last time she said I could go out whenever I needed to go for a short call but this time she is punishing me for moving out now. What should I do?” said the child.
This child was not doing anything wrong all she needed was an explanation on how he was supposed to leave class without portraying indiscipline.
Treat it seriously
“When instructing children on what to do, you should make sure that they do it especially when it comes to disciplining because this is where the child’s brain is actively finding out what you are capable of doing. Not following up will make them think that it was just a by the way,” says Katengeke.
She says much as it may seem silly, parents should evaluate themselves on a weekly basis just to know if their parenting was lacking in anyway so that they can make adjustments before the child goes astray.
She advises that when you realise that you went wrong somewhere somehow, before trying to make a change, sit your child and make it clear to them that what they did was not right so that they know it and the both of you start from a new page.
When parents go wrong
Mary G.A Asiimwe Butamanya, a counsellor at Uganda Counseling Association, says inconsistency causes most parents to go wrong without even noticing a thing in the initial stages.
Butamanya says it takes a cautious mind to realise that but most people notice it when the child starts going against their instructions or maybe someone has complained about how the parent is raising their child.
She further says, most of the time parents only notice their inconsistency on a negative perspective and forget the appraisal bit of it where they promise good things which they never fulfill.
“A parent who does not fulfill their promises will make the child get reluctant to do whatever they were never rewarded for because they will think it is of no use trying to please their parents since they will do nothing about it,” says Butamanya.
Such children will perceive their parents as liars and even if they say they will do something for them, they will never believe until it comes to pass.
Parents go wrong when they rush to make threats because there are some things you can never do to your child even if they wrong you but you use that to threaten them so that they can desist from a certain behaviour.
“For instance, telling a child that you will kill them, cut off their head or even their hands when they do something will make you appear as a joker when you fail to carry out your threat. Ensure that your threats are things that can be accomplished,” Mary G.A Asiimwe Butamanya, a counsellor at Uganda Counselling Association advises.
Butamanya says inconsistent behaviour is common among parents who are hot tempered because the calm ones always think before they act. She cautions parents against thinking that the only way to parent a stubborn child is by punishing them but sit them down and talk to them so that your reasons for punishing are valid.