Parenting thoughts: On Being Consistent

Once upon a time there was a mom who heard the advice to "be consistent." It was me. I heard it from many sources and in many contexts. I've applied and misapplied the advice to "be consistent" over the course of a dozen years of parenting. Now I have a few things to say about it. 

  • Be consistent does NOT mean you can't change your mind -- even in the middle of a power struggle. I can't tell you how many times I've walked it back when I've gotten to the breaking point. My husband's calm perspective has helped me realize that the most important thing to be consistent with is not being consistent in following up on a threat, it's being consistent in loving and teaching the kids. 
  • Be consistent does NOT mean you can't apologize to your child. You can apologize when you've lost your temper. It won't teach the kids that their poor choice was actually fine. If you teach your kids at planned, happy times about the behavior you expect from them, they'll get it. And they'll appreciate and emulate your apologies.  
  • Be consistent in giving your children limits. Teach your children the limits and expectations when everyone is calm, happy and in a place of love. This will require you to plan ahead, so that you're not trying to teach right behavior just a moment after you stop poor behavior. Planning calm times to teach your kids is hard, but that's ok, you're an adult. Setting times for things and following through is a great area in which to be consistent. There are great times to "teach as you go" and "teach in the moment." But if you don't set aside times to teach behavior that are unconnected to your child's current behavior, you're being more consistent in criticism than in teaching. 
  • Be consistent does NOT mean "do things the same way for each of your children." 
  • Be consistent means keep the promises you made when you were calm, happy and thinking rationally.
  • Be consistent means apply those consequences for behavior you laid out when you and your child were calm, happy and thinking rationally. 
  • Be consistent in loving your children.
  • Be consistent in teaching your children.

Do you have any parenting wisdom to share? I've been enjoying reading The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. Not done with it yet, but I like it so far!

Ick! and Nerp! Two gross, great books

 Today I've got to tell you about two gross, great books.


I first got to know Melissa Stewart's name in 2013, when I was reading massive amounts of juvenile non-fiction for the Cybils book award. (It didn't hurt that we have almost the same name. We're not related, that I know of!) She is a superstar of non-fiction for kids. I went over to her website to see how many books she's written . . . and I still don't have an answer for you because they're divided into categories and subcategories and it was too many to count!

Anyway, when I saw that top-notch author Melissa Stewart had paired with the top-notch photography and design people at National Geographic Kids, I was very interested. I requested a review copy of Ick! and I don't regret it. 

When the book arrived, my kids pored over it, and read out loads of disgusting facts for each other and me. "Mom, did you know about dung beetles?!" It was a big hit with my three oldest kids ages 12, 9, and 7. This isn't the sort of book that you have to read back to front. Each page focuses on one disgusting thing about an animal, and has a few sections on it: the main text, some stats, a couple of cool facts, and an "extra ick." The book is divided into three sections, one each for the gross things animals eat, their gross dwellings, and the gross ways they scare off predators.

Benjamin (12) knew right off the bat that the horned lizard would be in the book, and he was excited to find that page, then find equally icky facts about other animals. 

Of one of the pages Jubilee (7) said, "That's Ick. That's literally the title. Ick." 

Of the whole book Levi (9) said, "I like it. And it's disgusting." This is Levi's face, as Benjamin reads him an icky fact.

As for me, I like it, too. I learned many cool facts and already knew about dung beetles. I didn't get grossed out until I read about the tongue-eating louse. But I'll not spoil you on that one. 

Thumbs up for this one! There's a lot to learn from it, it's well written and designed, and has some truly horrifying and amazing photos. 

Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul

As far as disgusting goes, Nerp! is on the cute side of gross. It's a story of a little monster who doesn't want to eat any of the delicious foods his parents serve him. And his monster pet isn't interested in his own food. If you've ever had a toddler and a pet at the same time, this book is gonna speak right to your reality. 

The text is written in nonsense words: "Nerp!" is what our little monster says instead of "Nope!" And the nonsense titles of all the gourmet dishes that are served to him are sometimes disgusting and sometimes delightful. My kids had no trouble following the nonsense, and they had a great time talking about which dishes they would actually want to try. The book does have a little bit of an ick factor. For Jubilee, contemplating the book's ending gave her a tummy ache! It just gave the rest of us the giggles.

I absolutely adore the illustrations of this book. The emotions on every monster's face in each page are just spot on. I think the style might be considered collage? Sarah Lynne Reul built a miniature set and photographed it, then drew the characters and foods on top. The effect of the art is somewhere between real and make-believe, and the story is somewhere between "ick" and "aww."  

Recommended! I requested a review copy of this one because I loved Sarah Lynne Reul's The Breaking News which I bought at KidLitCon. Now I've got more to love. 
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