What Are You Teaching Your Child by Being Inconsistent?


As a parent, it’s important to be as consistent as possible to create a healthy living environment for you and your family. Of course, no plan is perfect, so occasional deviation is certainly permitted. Problems occur when inconsistency becomes more commonplace.

Being inconsistent affects your child in several ways. Also, it teaches him (or her) that inconsistency is perfectly acceptable. This is something that you definitely don’t want to happen. Continue reading to learn more about how children can be affected when there is inconsistency in their lives.

Anxiety and Fear

Many children who don’t have parental consistency at home find themselves dealing with high levels of anxiety and fear. Much of it comes from not knowing the consequences of doing something wrong. Inconsistent rules are like a mystery. A child might expect a particular consequence for one of his actions. When the resulting consequences aren’t as expected, this generally causes anxiety and confusion.

Rebellious Behavior

Rebellious behavior is the result of many things. One of those things is ambivalence. When a parent doesn’t follow through on things or frequently breaks promises, this can result in rebellion. In turn, resistance often leads to parental rejection, and the need for a child to get attention by exhibiting risky behavior as a means to convey feelings of anger and discontent.

Role Reversal

Did you know that being inconsistent sometimes causes a role reversal between parent and child? It’s true! In this situation, the child typically sacrifices his or her own needs and effort to care for the emotional needs of the parent and other siblings, if applicable.

It is not uncommon for children in this setting to nurture parents. The reasoning behind this is to bond with the parent to gain trust and try to settle into an otherwise absent routine.

Insecurity and Confusion

In a home that lacks consistency, a child’s insecurity and confusion surfaces at a very early age. Lack of security in a child’s daily routine can be detrimental. It’s not uncommon for children like this to wonder if their parents will give them emotional support during troubling times.

Even things like mealtime and bedtime can get confusing in a household that has no real schedule. One night dinner may be served at 5 pm and the next night at 8 pm. Children need structure to thrive. Inconsistency and structure go together like oil and water. They don’t mix.

It’s worth mentioning that everyone, adults and children alike, receives inconsistent messages all of the time. The good news is that experts tell us that the human brain is meant to handle complexity. This means that many children do a better job of sorting out these somewhat fuzzy messages better than some people think.

Now that you’ve read the above, you may want to make a few changes. If so, remember that there’s no reason to panic. You probably won’t need to overhaul your parenting methods completely. Depending on your situation, a few “consistency tweaks” will likely be all it takes. Not only will the future be better for your child, but it’ll also be less stressful for you as well.