Consistency is one of the most important parts of effective parenting. There are a lot of parenting techniques and programs out there. The most important thing is that you decide what you are going to do to discipline your children and stick with it.
One of the reasons we have to be 100% consistent in our discipline is because of the power of reinforcement schedules. Studies have been done where children are rewarded 100% of the time for something, rewarded randomly, or not rewarded at all. Guess which behaviors were the quickest learned and repeated? I may have tricked you here. It was the behavior that was rewarded on a random basis. But I thought you said be consistent. Okay stick with me here. What I am saying is if you are wishy-washy on your discipline (letting negative behavior go unpunished part of the time or even reward it sometimes…through your attention, giving in by buying the candy bar because of their whining, etc) it is going to be the hardest thing to break them of. Be 100% consistent in your discipline and they will be far less likely to pick up on negative behaviors.
Rules for consistency in parenting:
1 – Don’t make promises you cannot keep. They will learn not to trust you and that you don’t mean what you say. Why behave in the store because they won’t reward me anyway?
2 – Don’t threaten punishments you aren’t willing to follow through on. If you have to go to grandmother’s house today don’t threaten that they will have to stay home if they don’t obey in the store or pick up their toys. There is no way to be consistent if you promise or threaten things you will not or cannot do!
3 – Don’t let the only thing you are consistent on be inconsistency.
4 – Come to an agreement with your spouse on what type of discipline you are going to use (specific rewards and punishments for specific positive and negative behaviors). If one of you disciplines in a different way when the other is not around or even fails to discipline at all it will short circuit the learning process you are trying to train your child with.
5 – Learn to consistently only offer commands one time. This teaches them not to dawdle and teaches them that you are serious.
6 – Consistently reward and punish swiftly. If you wait more than 5 minutes to discipline a young child they won’t even know what you are disciplining them for by the time you get around to doing it.
7 – Consistently set expectations of how they are to behave in advance of a situation. Most children really do want to know what to do, what is expected of them, and what good behavior really looks like. They really do want to please you. You may have trained them to try the wrong things to do it but that really is their desire.