For Best Results: Prioritize Your Relationship with Your Co-Parent
When working on addressing a behavioral issue with your child, consistency is one of the most important pieces.
Whatever plan you have in place to address the behavior, both parents (if there are two) must be on the same page and hold the same expectations if there is going to be any significant change.
Let’s use increasing your child’s weekly exercise as an example. If the idea is that your child earns points for every minute of exercise that he completes weekly, and those points translate to dollars spent on new iPad apps, then both parents need to stay committed to following the plan, exactly.
If one parent doesn’t agree with the plan and allows the child to buy apps even when he hasn’t completed his exercise, then the whole plan is lost and there will be no improvements in your child’s exercise (READ: Promoting Physical Activity with your Children).
So, why is prioritizing your relationship with your partner/co-parent so important?
Because when relationships are strong and there is healthy communication, that allows for respect when each person shares their opinion, openness to debate and negotiation in terms of the objective, and support when one person is weaker and wants to give up.
Even if you are separated from your co-parent, you can still work as a team in order to provide the most consistent and stable expectations for your children. Not to mention, how you behave in your relationship with your partner or co-parent is what your children will come to believe is the “normal” way that it should be done.
We are our children’s examples of relationships long before they ever enter into one of their own. Just as our children imitate us in all things that they are learning (how to use words, how to use a fork, how to brush their teeth, how to draw a square), they will imitate us in their future relationships as well.
So, if there is a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed for your child, you may want to spend some time initially developing and solidifying your relationship with your co-parent first.
We are our children’s examples of relationships long before they ever enter into one of their own.
You should both be allowed to contribute to the development of the plan. Make sure that you are both in agreement with the expectations and consequences that will be in effect for your child.
Stand committed together and watch your child’s behavior transform.