Consistency can be very important for multilingual children. It is important for your children to know what your expectations are. The last thing your children want to do is to disappoint you!
Whether your multilingual children seem to care about consistency or not, at least make sure that you and your spouse are clear on your multilingual plans (even if you don’t always follow them!). In fact, it is very likely that you will adjust your plans along the way based on a myriad of factors. But unless you have a plan to begin with, you won’t even know what you are changing! You have to know where you stand to be able to have something to adjust.
- Start by answering for yourself the questions in the article “Why, What, Who, When, Where?” and come up with a general plan.
- Agree to stick with your plan for a specific amount of time (3 months? 6 months? 1 year? 5 years?).
- When that period of time is up (or before if needed) sit with your spouse and reassess how things are going.
- Remember that consistency is whatever YOU decide to make it. You will not harm your child by deciding that consistency means speaking both of your languages with your child.
- If you feel that your plan is not being followed through with as you expected (e.g. your spouse has stopped speaking his language with the children) then get together as a family and decide whether the plan should change or not.
- Don’t bully one another if things aren’t as consistent as you’d like. No one likes a bully. Get together and talk it out!
Your multilingual child will thank you for this down the road! You being consistent means that your child knows what to expect. If your child doesn’t know what to expect, she may decide to take language matters into her own hands and without consistency, it is hard for us to know what to do in those situations.
As I remind people over and over again in my seminar: consistency does not mean rigidity!
If you find that your multilingual language plan is causing friction with your spouse or your child, then it is time to come up with a better plan that will work with your multilingual family as a whole! Multilingual living is a family matter. Make sure the family is involved and is on board with the consistency plan.