Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 8: The Consistency Factor and "Get Up" Parenting

(Click HERE if you've missed any of the other posts in the 30 Days of Grace Parenting Tips series.)

If parents have a toolbox FULL of helpful parenting tips, ideas, truths, and strategies, but fail to be consistent in getting up and making them happen, it's worse than having an empty toolbox!

Children are overwhelmed, frustrated, and downright confused by inconsistent parenting.

Say What You Mean.

Think carefully before you speak a command to your children. If you will not (or can not) follow through completely, do not give the instruction. Do not give quick commands or respond with angry consequences that you have to later retract when more time has passed and you're thinking more rationally. Instead, think carefully before you speak and make your instructions very clear.

Mean What You Say.

Now that you've given an age-appropiate command to one of your children, prepare to get up and make it happen if necessary. It's not "cute" when little ones ignore their parents, run the other way, throw themselves down on the floor in anger, defiantly say "NO!", or do anything besides obey the instruction given to them.

Once you've given clear direction to your child, don't excuse their disobedience. They're not "tired", "hungry","didn't sleep well three nights ago", "not feeling well", "grumpy", "in a phase", "cutting teeth", etc, etc--they're disobeying! (Of course, these things DO play into how a child is feeling, and a wise parent will not expect quite as much if they sense the little one is more needy. But a reasonable, simple command should still be followed.)

Take the time (and it does take time) to stop whatever you are doing and help the obedience happen.

I am not advocating for harsh treatment of little ones---quite the contrary---so let me be very clear:

You can gain sweet obedience by using many of the gentle techniques I'm sharing in this series---but none of them will work if you are not consistent.

What I am saying is this: If you have no intention of helping the obedience happen after the request is made, then DO NOT GIVE THE INSTRUCTION. And once you have given the instruction, make sure it happens.

It is quite entertaining to go to play areas at fast-food restaurants and watch parents try to get their children to leave when it's time to go. They beg, they plead, they bribe ("do you want ICE CREAM?"), they get angry, they wait, they threaten to take away their birthday presents, they tell them that Santa won't come to their house.....the list goes on and on and on.

The problem isn't an unusually stubborn child.

The problem lies with an inconsistent parent.

All children will misbehave at times, but if in general, your child will not listen to you...

Check your consistency factor.

Are you giving reasonable requests, taking into consideration the child's age, maturity, hunger, etc?

Are you making sure your child is looking at you and hearing you clearly?

Are you getting up and immediately helping the obedience happen?

If a consequence is appropiate, did you communicate and teach that beforehand so the child knows what to expect?

Are you changing consequences on a whim because you're too lazy to be consistent?

If your child KNOWS that you will consistently stop what you are doing in order to follow through with whatever you asked your child to do, THEY WILL LISTEN when you speak. :)


Don't sit around on your backside, lazily, haphazardly giving commands and expecting them to happen.


Here's a list of "action" commands that work wonderfully with "Get Up" parenting:

Come to Mommy, Go to Daddy, Stay in your seat, Sit down on your bottom, Put down the markers, Turn off the T.V., Put on your seatbelt, No feet on the couch, Drinks stay on the table, Stay on your blanket, Pick up your toys, Stay in your bed, Put your head down on Mommy's shoulder (for training a younger baby), Do not climb on the table, Sit down in the bathtub, etc, etc, etc

These are action commands because they are not in any way relative----you can say it once, and then get up and help it happen immediately.

(I have another technique for some of the more relative commands.)

Just a note---with little children under about 2, most of the time I say the active command AND help it happen simultaneously. I will say, "Johnny, sit down for snack time." while sitting him down on his bottom. Or I will say "Sarah, it's time for naptime." while laying her down in her bed. You can say, "Michael, go to Daddy!" while holding his hand and walking him over to Daddy, or "Jane, pick up your toys." while handing the toy to her to drop in the toy box. In this way, you are actively reinforcing your commands with the obedience. It is non-threatening, and little ones learn to obey your words because they have always had to. :)


Just for fun, let's go back to the restaurant scenario. I'll share how I handle this situation. :)

First, teach, train, and disciple.

Before you get out of the car to go into the restaurant, get eye-contact with your little ones and explain your expectations clearly.

"We are going to eat all of our food before we play in the play-area. Then you can play and have fun! You may NOT hit any of the other children that are playing, even if they are not being nice to you. Tell Mommy if they are not kind and I will help you. If you hit anyone, you will be all done playing. Now, when it is time to go home, I will call you. What do you need to say to Mommy when I call you?"

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"That's right! When we get into the van, I have gum for everyone who listens and obeys. If you do not obey Mommy, when we get home you will have to stay in the kitchen with me while the other children watch a video. But I know you are all going to obey! So let's go have fun!"

When it is time to go home, give a 2 minute warning to the children.

Then announce that it is time to go home. I usually say, "Bergey Bunch, it's time to load up!" ;)

Praise each child that comes quickly. Once they are all buckled into the car, give a treat to each child that obeyed. Follow through with a consequence for any child that did not come.

NOW, even with all of these steps, some little ones will not want to stop playing. Especially 1, 2, and sometimes even 3 year olds. If you already know your little one will probably not come when you call them out of the play area, DO NOT CALL THEM.

Why? Because you shouldn't give a command unless you can and will follow through with it! If you don't plan on climbing up the slide to pull them out of the play area, don't even give the command. :))

Instead, when it is time to go, watch for your little one to down from the play area. Calmly and quietly walk over to them and, with a hand on them, say quietly in their ear, "Little buddy, it's time to go home now. Let's get your shoes on!" and see if they will willingly come. If they start to fuss or run, you are within arms' reach to follow through with getting them to the car. You are still teaching them that you mean what you say and that when you say it's time to leave, it really IS time to leave. :)

If there are any obedience issues, go home and ROLE-PLAY over and over again, until you are ready to go back to the play area and try again. :)


The key is to be completely consistent---Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, and Get Up and Help It Happen.

Every day.

All the time.

Both parents.

Even when you're tired.

Especially when you're on the Internet.

And when you're talking on the phone.

And even when you have followed through for the 100th time today---do it one more time! :)

Be consistent always.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to share "The Outlasting Technique" with you. It's very helpful when "Get Up"approach isn't appropriate or doesn't work. :)

Blessings, dear friends, on your parenting journey!


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is such a challenge!

  2. I am really liking everything you have posted in this subject so far. I am Mama to almost 10, ages 2-21 (about to bring home 2, 2 year olds this June from China) and from your posts I see myself getting lazy at times AND being not so gracious at times too.
    I was wondering do you read Raising Godly TOmatoes advice? What you write is a cross combination of those techniques and Karyn Purvis. That is exactly where I am at, but sometimes I have a harder time finding a balance for the adopted kids or the more needy kids, which RGT doesn't have as much grace for as Purvis does. Anyway, I would be curious to hear your thoughts and would love to chat privately with you about it. Also, this summer when we bring home our two new toddlers we will then have 3, 3 year olds from China. So I would love to hear more about how your handle that. We had planned on family bed/bedroom for all of them, as that has always worked well for our babies and our first adopted son. but I am wondering if 3 is just too much for me to handle there. So I am rethinking trying to train our oldest toddler adoptive son to be in his own room with his older brother. Attachment has gone so well so far, I am afraid to disrupt that with 2 new siblings coming into his world though. ANyway, I have written too much here already. My email is if you want to chat. I would love too.


I welcome any and all comments as long as they are Christ-honoring. Please let me know what you think!