The Power of Consistency


This week on my audio blog I shared a principle from my Becoming a Calm, Cool and Confident Mom series that is often a turning point for many moms I work with – Empty Threats.  As Hal Runkel says in his book, “ScreamFree Parenting” – empty threats are really broken promises.

Let that sink in a minute – we normally think of promises as good things we will do or get from others – but in parenting, promises we make to our children are often how we handle disciplining them.

The problem comes when we as parents do not keep promises – any kind of promise.  When you tell your child that they will lose their TV privilege if they have not done their chores, yet you allow them to watch TV even when they have not completed their chores – you are breaking a promise.  It effects them just as deeply as if you had told them that when they turn 10 they will get to go to Disneyland.

This is where consistency comes into play in the parenting world.  It is the biggie, the one word that catches everyone’s attention, but often is the hardest to accomplish.  Being consistent in anything is hard – very hard – but the relationship with your child depends on building a trusting relationship with him/her and how can you do that if your child can not believe what you say?

It comes down to integritymeaning what you say, saying what you mean and following through with what you promise – good or not so good.  The sooner you begin to truly grasp this concept and begin to incorporate this principle into your daily living, the sooner you will see transformation in your home.

What kind of difference do you think it would make if your child knew for a fact, from repeated experiences that you never  gave a second warning, never asked them multiple times to complete a task and your word should always be taken seriously.

Does the word respect come to mind? 

Do you feel this is something you are missing in your parenting skill set, being respected by your children? 

Perhaps it is all your own doing? 

Think back over the past week and evaluate how many empty threats you may have dished out to your children; ones you didn’t follow through on.  Often we make these threats when we are on the verge of screaming and losing it, we feel we have no other option to get compliance.  We get so aggravated that our verbal instructions aren’t enough to modify our child’s behavior that we resort to whatever  we can come up with to ‘get them’ to behave.

Can you come up with a few examples?  Can you see how you set yourself up for failure by not following through with those “promises”?

I challenge you to begin with you, stop before you speak and consider what you will be saying.  Make sure what is coming out of your mouth is consistent with how you would like to be respected by your children.  Can you follow through with what you are about to say?  If you cannot, then do not say it.  Don’t resort to empty threats.

Three things to keep in mind:

Don’t ever set a consequence to a behavior that is tougher for you to enforce that it is for your child to endure.

You know those ones that come out in the heat of the moment, “You are grounded for two months!”  How realistic is that?

There are no shortcuts to setting or enforcing consequences.

Providing consistent discipline for our children is always time-consuming, often exhausting and always rewarding!

Choose only consequences that you are willing to enforce.

Simple – choose only consequences that you can and will follow through on consistently!

When you begin to be consistent you will see results.

“Consistent enforcement of consequences is the single most effective application of authority in the parent-child relationship – but only if you can think through your decisions calmly before you make them.”  – Hal Runkel, author ScreamFree Parenting

I have posted the replay here for the audio blog if you missed it!

Listen to internet radio with Susan Heid on Blog Talk Radio


Have you seen a change in your home when you are more consistent?

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  • Theresa

    We actually use the phrase, “I mean what I say and I say what I mean” to our kids. We use it in times that they perceive as positive (I said we would get ice cream and even though it’s late I say what I mean and I mean what I say) as well as with consequences. Now the kids will call us on it, “I thought you say what you mean and mean what you say.”

  • Love that phrase! That is wonderful your children can keep you in check too, in a respectful way. It does work both directions and you certainly get better results when you are under the same “guidelines” as your children. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • What do you do when the other parent has the problem with consistency, especially when they travel a lot for work? My kids know that I do not budge, I carefully consider my words but they can wear my husband out. He just does not have the on the job training. He missed an entire year of standing firm with my eldest, now much more reasonable on the other side. So now he is experiencing it with our second son, it is hard on him. I have told him just to draw the line in the sand and don’t move. I think they go through a phase of wanted us to prove how much we love them by the limits we set. Any advise.

  • This post is a great reminder about following through. I try to do that to the best of my ability–even with a 15 month-old!

  • It is difficult when both parents do not do things exactly the same, but you can only worry about your actions. You said it well, your kids know that you won’t budge – that is all you can control. Hopefully he will start to learn more and see things, as you already said he is.

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