You’ve just moved your child to the naughty seat for a minor misbehaviour, and while he is sulking and not happy with you he is sitting quietly and has just 30 seconds left before he can re-join the activity for another chance to play nicely. He has just started to get the hang of quiet time and why it needs to happen sometimes, and the relationship between the two of you has improved so much as a result.
On the other hand, your partner finds it more effective to send your child to his room and shut the door as soon as he begins any sort of misbehaviour. This technique often triggers a tantrum, which more often than not results in your partner raising their voice and the entire family becoming stressed and upset.
This sort of scenario is common in many families, and it can be confusing for children to have two different sets of strategies for unwanted behaviour. Our belief systems around parenting and discipline are developed from a very young age. Usually our first influence is from our own parents and the methods they used, and it’s rare to find a partner who had a similar childhood and as a result has the same parenting style as you.
You and your partner may have been perfectly matched until it came to wrangling a 3 year old child. Suddenly you are having disagreements and becoming frustrated with each other, and this isn’t good for you or your children. It’s an issue that needs to be resolved.
We’ve put together four easy steps to follow to help you parent more consistently as a team with your partner.
Have a meeting. It sounds simple, but set aside some time to sit with your partner and have a chat about your child. Review your strategies, their strategies and why you both choose to parent the way that you do. You might learn some interesting reasons behind their parenting style, and gain a better understanding of their decisions. It will also give you a chance to give your view on different situations. Keep it calm and civil, choose a time when you are both relaxed and aren’t likely to be interrupted by your children.
Get educated. Both of you should do some research, talk to your friends, and talk to The Parenting Co. Find out which strategies are appropriate for the age of your child and what you should be expecting of them from a developmental point of view. Remember that every family is different, so something that works for your friend and their child might not be as effective for you.
Collaborate and compromise. Work with your partner to develop a plan that you both agree on based on what you have learnt through your research. It can help to write it down and keep it somewhere to remind you both of the strategies you agreed on and help you implement them when you need to.
Put it into practice! Remember change takes time. You and your partner will need to practice your new strategies and see how your child reacts to them. Your child will also take time to learn about your new reactions to their behaviour, and will probably try to test the boundaries to see exactly what you will do each time. The more consistent you are the quicker they will learn that you are a united team, and that they can feel secure in your ability to guide them.