Most of my work as a sleep consultant is about helping parents to be consistent. Consistency is a word that everyone knows, but few people really understand. I often here my clients say “ But I think we are being pretty consistent”. What these parents fail to understand about consistency is that it does not permit degrees. You either are consistent, or you are inconsistent. There is nothing in between. There is no such thing as very consistent or extremely consistent.

Consistency is a gift of love that you give to your child, while inconsistency is confusing and misleading. Inconsistency is a message that informs your child that she gets to make the rules for a game she doesn’t know how to play.

Keeping a regular routine is an important part of consistency

Days are less chaotic and arguments infrequent if a child knows what is expected of her upon rising, after school, or when going to bed. Consistency helps a child develop a sense of responsibility in that they know exactly what is required of them.

Children are less likely to test boundaries or push limits when they know the consequences of their behavior. But if the consequences are always changing then they in fact don’t know the consequences, and cannot make an informed decision about their own behavior. It’s never too late to develop consistency with your child.

You may find rule enforcement difficult in the beginning, and you will most certainly be met with resistance. In the long run, though, developing consistency will benefit you and your child and the whole family.

*(Adapted from Dr. Fred Jones’s—Tools for Teaching)

My advice

    • Children always try to push the limits. It is a natural part of their developing autonomy. However, when you give in, they feel more insecure.
    • They are manipulators. Not in the negative sense of the word, it is their way of discovering how to get what they want.
    • They like structure and routines. Children behave much better when they understand what is happening and are not met with surprises.
    • They have not yet developed the cognitive ability to understand complex reasoning. Everything is white or black, yes or no, …
    • They can be very persistent, especially when this behavior has already worked for them in the past
    • Procrastination and non-obedience should be punished.
    • Rule number 1: no means no
    • If you are consistent, you can use increasingly smaller consequences to change bad behavior.
    • If you are inconsistent, you must use increasingly greater consequences to change bad behavior.