Predictability is seen as repeated patterns of behavior that include but are not restricted to bedtime rituals or what we eat for breakfast.
This predictability leaves less room for chaos, especially when trying to create a safe haven for your ward.
Getting children ready for the day should have specific steps and predictability of little things like serving them familiar foods, listening to soothing music, or reading them books at bedtime.
Everything becomes chaotic when there is no predictability, and the ‘atmosphere’ will be difficult to control. Lack of predictability and pattern in parenting leaves a child feeling uncertain, hesitant, and insecure because they will never be certain what to expect from you.
Children are like sponges; they soak up what they see their parents do and how they interact with everyone. What they see parents doing is what they will believe is the right way to behave.
If you are not consistent or don’t indulge in constant interaction, children mostly develop social anxiety when they are faced with other kids who had it better at home.
Given all these, it is vital that parents are mentally and emotionally ready to shape their children correctly, and one of the ways to achieve this is to be as predictable as possible. The higher the predictability, the better your child can control and regulate their own actions and emotions.
It is difficult for a child to understand the world if a parent is always leaving them confused. The better they can predict certain responses from their parents, the better their ability to identify social cues and emotions.
The Four Key Ingredients to help you establish parental predictability and build a strong balance in the home.
This practically means doing the same things every time. How you respond to your child’s behavior, no matter what is going on with you or how messed up your feelings are, will make their misbehavior decrease drastically.
If you always use the same consequences as punishment for them, they will always think twice before committing an offense. This should also apply to good behavior.
Good behaviors are likely to be repeated when you reward them or tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.
This does not imply that you always give attention to all your child’s actions or behaviors. Just think about what you want your kid to do more often or less, and apply consistency to these things, and you will see positive changes.
[Read: What Children Need From Their Fathers?]
Children will test a parent’s limit to learn what’s right or wrong. It is how they can understand your own feelings toward their actions. But for parents, this can be frustrating.
One way to hold on to control is to learn how to build a structure. You can achieve this through consistency and parental authority. When a parent has authority, they create rules.
Rules teach the children what behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t. Rules also make kids understand what’s expected of them.
If your kid breaks a certain rule, they already know what to expect. And likewise, when they did well, thereby creating a well-constructed structure.
While establishing parental predictability has a wealth of benefits, it’s also important to be flexible. Naturalness and creativity are important factors in a child’s life, and parents need to be reasonable in this regard.
For example, as a parent, you may set a time by which your children must be home in the evening. But suppose they request an exception to the rule on one occasion? Don’t you think it will be appropriate at least to consider the specific circumstances involved?
Such was the case in a small town in Germany. Nevertheless, a parent there learned that her daughter was holding back from sharing an unpleasant experience with a student at school. The reason? She could not afford to disappoint her parents.
The parent concluded that flexibility was in order and therefore encouraged the child to begin sharing her encounters with other students, whether good or bad.
It is always best to stay firm and flexible at the same time. When a routine becomes too rigid, the benefits will be reduced, and they may feel somewhat controlled by it rather than helpful, which is supposed to be the primary goal.
Your child should be able to know what will happen at certain times or how you respond to certain things when your routines and actions are predictable. Your child will know when they are silly; they could get a time out. And when they are good, you’ll be happy and impressed.
Also, predictability helps them create routines of their own. They know what to do when it’s bedtime, such as brushing their teeth, changing into nightwear, reading a story, and turning the lights off.
How we react after an unsettling phone call or react to food being thrown on a freshly painted wall can create behavioral patterns that our kids pick up on.
Another reason why parental predictability is needed is that it reduces stress for both parents and children. Lots of studies show that familiar patterns are very calming to children.
Predictability becomes even more essential when you have sensitive children. A number of things can cause this sensitivity. It could be due to a change in the environment, trauma, or health issues that eventually lead to a high level of stress.
And because children are children, most do not know how to handle this well, so they take it out on the adult who can never understand what they are going through.
[Read: 15 Tips to Help Your Child Do Better at School]
Parents are advised to create consistent and predictable patterns for each day and help their kids adjust to them during this trying period.
This will help them to better control and regulate their own actions and be less disorganized, confused, and stressed. This also works wonders on the parents’ mental state.
No perfection is needed, so parents need not be overwhelmed by the task of creating a structured home. Have it in the back of your mind that what you are doing will leave a lasting pact with your child.
When the feelings do become overwhelming, help your child understand what you are going through. Make them understand the reason why you feel what you feel, how it is no fault of theirs, and that the feeling will pass.
When children feel like they’re being carried along, they tend to be more relaxed and able to fall into a routine. Relaxed children make parenting easier. Relaxed children will also have a healthy environment to grow up in.
Children who lack routine in their lives are likely more stressed by trying to catch up with everything revolving around them, so they become susceptible to temper tantrums, withdrawal, and aggressive behaviors.
When you find yourselves in a new environment where your structure might not hold, having their familiar clothing, toys, books, and toys will go a long way in reducing their stress.
Suppose you already have kids and have just recently thought about adapting to predictability due to certain things like irregular shifts, monthly or yearly relocation, or occasional travel trips, etc.
And now you’re now settled and looking to have some stability in the family; this might be a little strenuous.
But it is achievable nonetheless, and all you have to do is have the will to hold on to your new resolve when your kids rebel at the new way of doing things. And believe it or not, they will at one point or the other.
If you are unable to achieve this or find things too overwhelming for you or your spouse, it might be time to consult a family therapist. A family therapist is well equipped to help you build a more suitable structure.
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