Episode 4: Consistency
I’m Heather Anderson, and this is Episode 4: Consistency.
Welcome to The Mommy Whisperer. I’m your host, Heather Anderson. I’m a mother, wife, educator, and a Certified Life Coach specializing in parenting and relationships. I’m here to talk about all things motherhood, and to inspire more confidence, happiness, and fulfillment on your journey through motherhood… the most important job in the world!
Hello, amazing moms! Thank you for joining me, once again, today.
We are going to talk about the final “C” of the 3 C’s of Successful Parenting which is called Consistency.
Consistency is holding your ground. Consistency is making sure the consequences really do happen, no matter what your child might try to do to get out of it. This might sound like the C that has less bang for its buck, but I assure you that it is just as important as the other two C’s. It is actually the C that is holding the other two C’s together. Without this C everything, all your hard work you’ve been doing, is pretty much for nothing. Even if you have explained your expectations so clearly, and you have found the most amazing logical consequences to go with them, if you are not consistent your child will have learned nothing. And that makes this C, Consistency, the most challenging of all of them.
Your children may have gone along with the first C when you were setting up your Clear Expectations with a pretty good, if not great, attitude. And the 2nd C of setting Consequences might have gotten some push back, maybe a little bit of crying and some eye-rolls, and maybe even some door-slamming. But this C… this C is when you will witness full-on tantrums! And not just from your teenagers.
This is where the true test of your parenting strength and confidence will come into play. This is where most of the difference is made. And this is where things will get worse before they get better.
I know that sounds pretty discouraging, but things will get better. Things will get so much better. Your kids will test you, they will get angry, they will try to make you revert to your old ways, they’ll say things to you like, “Mom, I liked you way better before you started listening to that dumb Mommy Whisperer lady!” And they will probably even tell you they hate you. If this happens, then you know you’re doing something right. Because once you encounter this resistance, that’s when you know it’s working, but you must hold firm. If they know they can control you and get what they want by pushing your anger, sympathy, or guilt buttons, they’ll always come back to those same buttons whenever they feel the need for control.
And you know what? This testing process is so important to your children. They’re not just trying to be manipulative and make you miserable, although that is what it seems like every time. In their defense, they need to test the expectations and the consequences in order to assure themselves that the limits are firm enough to provide the needed security. They need to find out if we mean what we say; if we are going to be firm on our word or not. They need to discover, for themselves, if those walls we’ve been telling them about are real and solid or if they will crumble when they are tested.
And each of our children will have their own unique way of testing us. Some might use anger, some might use guilt, some might be really sneaky, and (one of my kids favorites) some will pretend to just have forgotten. Do your kids do this? They just act like they didn’t even know that had been a discussion. Or that that was even an expectation. I really did used to believe that they were forgetting what was expected of them and so I wouldn’t really get mad at them because I would just re-explain the rule and go from there. But then I realized it was happening all the time. And it was actually a form of rebelliousness in a very covert way. And this arguing gets so frustrating, doesn’t it? One of my most frustrating things is when my kids argue semantics which means that they throw words back at you and they’re arguing those words even if those words have nothing to do with the issue at hand. Thank you to Dr. Rick, by the way, for teaching me what exactly arguing semantics is.
So your children are going to fight back. They will pout and complain, stomp around, slam doors, whine, talk back, ignore you, lay guilt trips on you. My 3 C’s of Successful Parenting doesn’t mean that this will all go away; it will most likely increase because we are holding our ground. We are becoming firm. So they have something to push against now. They might not have felt this very much before so it’s kind of a wake-up call for them. I encourage you to be ready for all of this, because it will come, and what it means is that you’re doing it right. It means that your parenting skills are “on point” as the teenagers say these days. I don’t know. Do they still even say that?
While our kids try everything they can think of to get us to ease up, we must stand firm. And after all, the limits we are imposing were our children’s choice. Remember, it’s not coming from us, as their parent, it’s coming from their choices that they’ve chosen to make. Of course they’re going to be hungry if they chose not to eat the dinner that was served at the time that it was served. The hunger is the natural consequence of their action. And, of course, we will respond with compassion and empathy because we know how it feels to miss a meal, and we tell them that with kindness and understanding. We might say, “It’s tough to miss a meal and feel hungry, but after I miss a meal I sure do enjoy the next meal.” So we never need to be mean or punishing about it.
But if we give in, if we feel guilty that they are so uncomfortably hungry, and if we let their complaining drive us crazy and we end up giving them some food, we completely obliterate any meaning behind the consequences and it will be all for nothing. We will have set up a crumbling wall for our child. And if we get angry with them for the choice they made or we lecture them with “I told you so’s” and the attitude of, “Hmm, let’s see what you can learn from this”, we also present a crumbling wall. And if we do it this way, our children do feel like we’re punishing them and they really will direct their anger toward us and blame us. We always need to try to give their problem back to them.
And I’m not always good at this. In fact, the other day we were having an ant problem in our pantry and there were ants in some of the cereal boxes. As I was cleaning out the ants and getting out all the cereals, I realized there were like 10 open boxes of cereal and some of them were the same kind of cereal and not one was finished before the next one was opened. And my kids know that we only open about 4 or 5 boxes at a time. And another rule is that we always clip the bags inside with a clip so that they stay fresh. Anyway, the cereals weren’t clipped, the ants were in the cereals, there were like 10 boxes down. And I said to them, “I’m not buying any more cereal. This is it. You’re never eating cereal again. And you guys are so irresponsible.” And I was pretty frustrated. Then I caught myself, probably a little too late, they probably have that engrained in their brain now and it’s like a punishment, but I re-worded everything. I said, “Because you have chosen to get out so many boxes of cereal and not clip them to keep them fresh, you have also chosen to not be able to have cereal anymore for your breakfast.” And it wasn’t a complete absolute because I said after a time I would start to buy cereal again and see how they do. And although I had messed up the first time around and said things a little bit wrong, as soon as I put it back on them, as soon as I showed them that it was their choices, my youngest runs over and clips down the bag that she had just eaten the cereal of and they seemed to really have gotten it at that point.
Although this seems like just a silly little example, we can catch ourselves if we see ourselves saying things in more of a punishment way and figure out how to reword it by telling them that it was because of their choice that now they have chosen this consequence to happen. (Although it really would be much more effective if we could think through our words and say it right the first time.)
Let me give you a few more examples of the 3 C’s in action so that I can really illustrate the beauty of this whole system. Let’s say your child is dragging his feet on Saturday and not wanting to do his chore which is maybe washing the car. An effective way to establish logical consequences is to negotiate a service charge. Let your child know that the car-washing is his responsibility and if he chooses not to do it or not do it in a timely manner, then you will have to hire someone else to do it. And mention that you might even be willing to do their job for them, if that’s the case, but that you expect to be paid for it since it’s not your responsibility. Then negotiate a fee and establish the job deadline, and tell your child that if they car is not washed by that certain time then you will assume that he has decided to hire out his services. And he might test you to see if you’re serious, and then you could hire a neighbor kid or do it yourself and hand him the bill. And just a little side-note, try to never deduct from your child’s allowance because this mistakenly implies that your child is being paid for their services and we don’t really want to have them be thinking that they’re doing their chores because they’re getting paid for it and that’s the only reason. They’re doing their chores because it’s something you’ve asked of them and it’s what’s expected of them for living in your home.
Another example I was thinking of, is you may have a child who refuses to brush their teeth. Our usual reactions might be to lecture, or remind, or command that they do it right now. Or you can give them the choice of either brushing their teeth or giving up snacks until they are willing to assume the responsibility of brushing their teeth, because sweets and other snacks contain sugar and starch which can be harmful to their teeth. And then follow through. So if they test you and just refuse to brush their teeth, you withhold the snacks and the other sweets, however you need to do that.
And I’ll give you one more example, my favorite: the forgetting. Usually when your child forgets something, we want to remind them and coax them and nag them and maybe punish them. But if your child forgets something, or says they forgot something, if it doesn’t involve you, don’t get involved. Just let those natural consequences take over and teach them the lesson. For example, they might forget to take their books or lunch money or something else to school and the best way to let them learn is to not save them by bringing those things to the school. This might sound super harsh, and if it has only happened once in their whole entire life then maybe we do go save them. But if it continues to happen, they really need to learn this lesson in order to grow up to be responsible adults. If you let them feel the consequences of their forgetfulness, they will be less likely to keep forgetting. But if their forgetting doesn’t have to do with just them, and it has to do with you and your family and the rules that have been established, then be sure to not keep giving them constant reminders. And let them know that if you continue to forget this particular rule that you are having a hard time following, this is the consequence that will happen. Or even let them come up with a consequence that will happen if they keep “forgetting” to meet that expectation.
Now please know that your kids aren’t going to shape up in an instant. Parenting with my 3 C’s method is like dieting. We don’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to become thin today!” Although I so wish that were the case. So just take your time and begin implementing this a little at a time. Pick one thing that you want to modify in your child’s behavior and then just concentrate on that one behavior for a time. But don’t do it immediately; rehearse a little first. And I would even suggest going back and listening to my previous two podcasts while you’re thinking through that specific behavior. You can even go to my website: heatherandersonlifecoach.com and print out the 3 C’s worksheet and kind of get to brainstorming with that. It’s under the “Mommy Resources” section. And this will help you get your thoughts in order before you’re ready to present it to your children. Really try to figure out how your child might react and prepare to deal with that reaction. Once you’ve succeeded in the area you’ve chosen to deal with first and all of that is going well, then pick another area, and then another. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. But in the end, it will be so great. You will see your child growing and changing and you will grow just as much. I promise, you will find more peace, happiness, and respect in your home and a ton more confidence in yourself.
You got this!
And if it’s just not working and you’re struggling with the implementation of this or anything else, please sign up for a free mini-coaching call with me. And I would love to work with you. And I know I could help.
I absolutely love working with moms and I’m here for you if you have any questions.
And remember: The only way you will see results is if you stay consistent.
I’ll talk to you next week.
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As a grandma who has raised four children who are now responsible adults, I wish I had had this information when they were young. These principles really do work. The key is consistency and sticking to the plan. My favorite saying with my children went something like this (putting the responsibility back on their shoulders)…”You won’t be able to play outside right now because you decided to not do your homework.” I left the decision to them as to whether they played outside or got a treat or went to some event. My children learned that their decisions had consequences. Great job Heather! I’m enjoying your insights!