If you’re like me, you hear all kinds of theories about how to best lead and teach students today. There are countless books on the market with the latest suggestions on how to handle this different generation of kids, who grew up online, who now carry their phones around as though they were an appendage to their bodies and who seem to speak a different language than their parents and teachers do.
Some theorists suggest we need to toughen up. We need to become more strict, and put these lazy, disengaged, slackers in their place. Others suggest the opposite, saying these kids need some latitude and grace. They require adults to allow them some creativity as they bloom into the adults they’ll eventually become.
So, who is right?
Do our students need more rules or less rules? Do they need us to tighten up or loosen up? What do they need require most?
I believe the answer may surprise you. I’m convinced the most important factor is:
Consistency. Simple, raw consistency.
In our day of tumultuous change, where the only thing that is constant is change, adults must model consistent values and behavior, whatever the rules are. I actually don’t think the issue in our homes is whether to be strict and have a curfew or not, it is to simply stick to your guns and be constant. Don’t waiver. Don’t fluctuate.
The ingredient that fosters insecurity among children (old or young) is inconsistency in their adult leaders. We all know peers who grew up with different standards in their homes. Some of our friends remember very strict parents; others reminisce about parents who allowed them lots of leeway. In either case, I am not sure it was the rules that were important, but the fact that they were enforced in a steady manner.
So, my advice to parents, coaches, faculty and youth workers?
Choose your standards, and be consistent.
It provides security. It furnishes a model to follow. It allows them a stable environment in which to grow.
What do you think? How important is consistency? Leave a comment below.