Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

The Four C’s of Parenting:

Here's a framework for important parenting principles
By Expert Tips
Date: November 29 2016
Editor Rating:
Four cs of parenting
Parenting can be tough. I’m sure every parent, at some stage, has wished that their child really did come with a manual! Well, this may not be a manual, but this framework certainly will make the job of parenting easier. The Four Cs of Parenting provide a clear, easy to follow framework for important parenting principles. The Four Cs are Consequences, Consistency, Calm, and Charged Batteries. Although the framework seems simple enough, it will take practice and persistence from you.
In real life our actions carry consequences. If we help someone with a chore, they thank us (a positive consequence). If we say something hurtful to someone they may get angry and not talk to us (a negative consequence). It is an important lesson to learn that our actions result in both positive and negative consequences. As a parent, you need to teach your children that their actions will have consequences. Consequences should be given when a young person misbehaves and, importantly, when they do something positive!! We strongly encourage you to catch your young person doing well!
One common difficulty parents have when administering a negative consequence is getting the young person to comply. For example, a negative consequence that requires the young person to clean their room may not work, as it requires the young person to comply with your request. In this case, you can become frustrated and think that Consequences do not work! Always talk this over with your therapist if you believe Consequences are not working. Generally, we have found that withholding a privilege is more effective – taking their mobile phone for a certain amount of time, restricting time spent with friends to 30 minutes, taking away a favourite toy. It is important to brainstorm positive and negative consequences with your young person and agree on these prior to using them.
The next C is Consistency. Research has found that linking behaviour to consequences is most powerful when it is done consistently. If a young person only receives a consequence occasionally for breaking a rule, then the young person may continue to break the rule because they know it upsets the parent (they have a pay-off) and they know they can get away with it most of the time. This is an important life lesson for two reasons. First, the young person learns that their actions will always have a consequence. Secondly, it reassures the young person that you as a parent can be depended upon, not only to set limits but also to protect the young person’s welfare.
If you are a two parent family, you will need to ensure that you both apply the Four Cs consistently. This avoids giving your young person mixed messages, and reducing the likelihood they will play one parent off the other. It is also important not to threaten a consequence that you are not willing, or able, to follow up on (this appears inconsistent to the young person). Or to apply a consequence that exceeds the behaviour (e.g., buying the young person a bike for tidying up their room; removing all items, including the mattress, from their bedroom because they broke curfew by 30 minutes).
The third C is Calm. Consequences should be delivered in a calm non-reactive manner. I know this. is a tough one, but this is important for two reasons. First, remaining calm helps the young person avoid assuming that they are receiving a negative consequence because the parent is angry and upset rather than for breaking a rule. That is, the young person is likely to focus on the parent’s anger rather than on the lesson to be learnt from the consequence. Second, a young person that realises they can make their parents upset, will continue to do so (pay-off) as a way of maintaining power over the parent.
Charged Batteries
The final C is Charged Batteries. At first you may wonder why this is included in the Four Cs of Parenting. Why do you need Charged Batteries to parent well? The reason is that it can be very difficult to apply consequences consistently and in a calm manner even when you are feeling your best. It is especially difficult to do this when you are feeling run down! An important aspect of parenting is to keep your batteries charged and look after yourself. There are many factors that can contribute to low batteries – struggling with depression, health issues, stress, limited resources, a lack of support. There are many self-care activities that you can do to help recharge your batteries – take a walk, attend a support group, start a new hobby, spend time with friends. Ask your therapist for a list of activities if you are having trouble thinking of some.
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