Lasting change in behavior doesn’t just happen. Creating lasting change is not a quick-fix. Change requires a parent to be consistent over and over as consistency creates change. When changing a child’s behavior, remember that small, daily improvements lead to long-term success.
Success in parenting requires parents to take an honest look at their strengths and weaknesses. For most parents, success will come when they can focus on their strengths and know what they can realistically do. Setting goals that you won’t be able to follow through creates frustration for you and your child and will put a strain on your relationship.
If you set goals that are dependent on your child doing a specific behavior every time, you’re destined to be frustrated and not find success. When setting goals, parents should always focus on setting goals for things they can control. You may not be able to control how your child will react, but you can control what you will do.
When focusing on things to change, start with one behavior. Once you and your child has mastered that behavior, then add another behavior. The first change usually takes the longest for your child to implement, so don’t give up if the change isn’t happening as quickly as you’d like. Each change you implement after the first will be easier for you and your child.
We won’t be perfect parents, but we can be consistent parents in changing a child’s behavior. Success is not having your child behave the way you want them to act; success is being able to follow through every time no matter how your child reacts.
When you are consistent, it tells your child that they matter as the child doesn’t have to “guess” at they’ll get in trouble for or what they won’t. Consistency will help you and your child build a healthy relationship. Being consistent also prepares them to navigate the world without your help as it shows them that the world has rules that need to be followed.
To learn the behavior skills on Smarter Parenting visit: https://www.smarterparenting.com/lesson/
For more information about how Smarter Parenting uses the Teaching-Family Model, visit the episode podcast page on SmarterParenting.com https://www.smarterparenting.com/adhd-parenting-podcast/
If you are looking for specific help in knowing when to teach behavioral skills, sign up for a free 15-minute Parenting Coaching mini-session: https://www.smarterparenting.com/coaching/
This is episode 67. In this episode, we will discuss the importance of consistency, so let’s begin.
Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.
Hello, everyone. How was everybody doing? I hope you’re doing fantastic. I am doing great myself, and I am super excited to be talking about consistency during this podcast. It’s one of those topics that in some ways, I’m super excited to talk about, but in other ways, I’m nervous to talk about.
Let me explain why I get nervous about talking about this topic of consistency with parents. It’s because consistency is one of the most important things that parents need to do to effectuate change in their children, but it’s also one of the most difficult. It is seriously one of those things that is really hard for a lot of parents to grasp, is their consistency.
There’s a lot of things working against parents when they’re working with their children, but during this podcast, during this vlog, what I want to talk about is the importance of consistency. I want to talk to you about, “How do you set goals around being consistent? What would be an effective way for you to set goals around it? How do you measure the success based on the consistency of what you’re measuring?”
Those are the things that I want to talk about. These are really important topics that require a lot of introspection on the part of you as the parent, so we’re going to talk a little bit about, “How do you prepare yourself to establish the right goals, and also to measure the success that you are going to see with your own children?” Before I begin, I just wanted to start off by sharing a video that I saw. I was watching this video online, and I thought it was super interesting. There was a gentleman, an older African-American gentleman presenting to some young school children in a classroom, and one of the school children actually raised their hand to ask a question.
He asked, “How are you so confident? Where do you get the confidence that you have from?” The gentleman said, “It’s from being consistent in what I’m doing,” and he relayed this example to this young student and he said, “You know, I don’t have confidence in skateboarding because I haven’t practiced it because I haven’t done it consistently. I don’t have confidence in doing some other things, but I do have confidence in this,” and he explained that, “You get confidence by applying yourself and being disciplined in what it is that you want to be confident in and that you needed this element of consistency dedicated to your abilities in order to improve and to grow.” What I loved about this exchange is that he actually gave these children some very powerful insights into what it takes to be a successful adult.
Does it take magic? Does it take talent? Does it take all of these things? To some degree, yeah. Those things do come into play, but it is consistency that separates those who are truly effective from those who are mediocre or good. There is the saying that goes, “Consistency is more important than perfection,” and for parents, this is a hard thing for them to hear because they want their children to be perfect.
They want them to behave in a perfect way and to be perfect. It’s not that important. Consistency, your consistency in your interactions is more important than the perfection that you’re expecting from your children because children are wild. It’s a long shot to get them to behave in the way that you specifically want them to behave, because they have their own minds and their own ideas, and they’re going to do what they want, and so your goal is not to focus on that, the aspect of perfection, but on consistency. I have told parents over and over and over again, “Your expectations should be focused on things that you can control, and what can you control? You can control your own perceptions on what you’re doing, you can control what you’re doing, and you can be consistent in those things.”
Now, think about that. Super powerful, because what we’re doing is we’re taking away the power the child has on the way things work and we’re actually implanting what the parent can do and what they have control over, and how they can be consistent as a parent in applying these techniques. Whether or not the child follows through or not, that is up to the child. However, a parent can be very consistent and can apply these parenting techniques very effectively, and over time, the changes begin to happen, right?
There’s another saying that goes, “Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results,” and that is something that I emphasize also with parents is that we’re looking at small daily improvements, and those actually build. It’s a compound interest type of deal where things just accrue quickly over time, and you have long-term results, positive, long-term results if we apply small things at first, but we are consistent about it, we are consistently moving forward. We all know consistency is one of the main elements that make all parents successful, is this idea that they can be consistent with what they say, with what they do and their expectations. One of the sayings that I love the most, there are so many sayings that are available about consistency, but one that I love is, “Consistency always leads to excellence.” Whatever you do in life, always be consistent, and that goes along with the story I shared earlier of the older African-American gentleman who was talking to these young children, right?
We can’t be perfect in everything, however, we can be consistent parents. We can choose to be very intentional and very consistent in our approach and in how we interact with our child. It’s powerful stuff. How do we get to that point, right? How do you as a parent, how do you approach being consistent?
This is where it makes most parents crazy because they are focused on, “Okay, I need to be consistent. I need to be consistent.” And so they’re picking apart at little things that they need to do in order to be consistent. I want to make a suggestion, and this is a suggestion I give to all parents, is that you take some time to do some self-evaluation because consistency is only as effective as you are in your ability to recognize your own weaknesses and your strengths. I took a dramatic pause there because I think that it’s super important for you to get, but you need to know yourself well enough that you know where you excel, where your power is, and where you need additional work. Consistency requires you to know yourself in a way that you can check yourself because no one else is going to check you for it.
You have to know yourself. I often recommend that parents take some time to really evaluate and look inwardly to find out, “Where are my strengths? What can I be consistent with? Where are my weaknesses?”
I was working with a mother as we work through this process of helping her understand how she could be more consistent. We wrote down on a piece of paper two areas, so on the left side of the paper were her weaknesses, on the right side were her strengths, and so we went down and we listed those. She obviously thought she had more weaknesses than strengths, but I helped point out that she had a lot of strengths going for her, and so we listed those things to do an evaluation and to get a frame of mind for her.
What I discovered during that process is her focus on the weaknesses actually overcame all of the strengths that she had, right? She was unable to notice all the strengths that she had because she was so focused on the list of weaknesses, so we went through the weaknesses and we realized, “Okay. Is this really a weakness or is this your perception of a weakness in your ability to apply consistency in the rules that you have in the home?”
Now, some of the things that she had on there were when the child starts to throw a tantrum, she becomes emotionally agitated. I don’t know if that’s actually the right word, but it would trigger something in her that kicked in her mothering instincts so she wanted to soothe and to comfort her child, rather than to hold the child accountable, anything to comfort the child and to stop them from crying or from throwing the tantrum, so she was able to pick up, “That’s a weakness of mine. If I hear my child crying or throwing a tantrum, I tend to give in to that tantrum to try and ease or comfort them.” Even though she knew it wasn’t good, so we worked around that. We’re like, “Okay. Well, let’s evaluate if any of the strengths that you have can be used in order to counter that weakness.”
As we delved deeper into her ability to self-evaluate, what she came back with is she wanted to raise the most resilient and healthy child that she could possibly raise. She wanted her child to be independent. She wanted her child to have good self-esteem, to have wonderful boundaries, so we used that actually as the focus point, and we set our intervention around those goals rather than on the weaknesses. However, we had to acknowledge the weaknesses. After working with her for about two weeks, she was able to realize that, “Yeah. She gave in.”
She gave in, as most mothers do. They don’t like to hear their children cry. They don’t, and they don’t like to hear suffering, children tend to cry or throw a tantrum, and they want a soothe, and they want a mother, and they want to nurture. Well, she had to figure out, “Where is the line between what my child does and his behavior and what I’m going to do in order to bring him to a point where he will be independent, where he will be happy, where he will be well adjusted and have good boundaries?”
Again, we focused on those things in order for her to focus on how she could be consistent, how she could be consistent in what she’s doing. This is not easy, folks. This is like this is a lot of work. It is a lot of work. I am always shocked when I walk by a mirror and I see myself or I see a picture of myself somewhere, and I look at myself and I’m like, “Oh, man, that’s a horrible picture.”
Sometimes it’s painful for me to watch videos of myself, and so I avoid it. I do, but it, this type of work in parenting requires us to be comfortable, to look at ourselves in true light the way we really are and to do some real self-evaluation of, “Where are my weaknesses, and where are my strengths, and can my strengths overcome those weaknesses?”
Because 95, 97% of the time, your strengths will be the things that will carry you through, carry you through and help you reach your potential and the goals that you want to reach. It’s hard. It is super hard to take that kind of look at yourself, but successful parents and successful people are able to do this. They’re able to look at themselves.
I always find it interesting, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. Followed him for a long time, but Michael Jordan used to do this thing where he would go back and he would watch, and he would look for ways to improve and be like, “Okay, I’m going to do this,” and the same was happening with Kobe Bryant. He would watch Michael Jordan videos in order to improve his game. It’s this idea that we are always consistently learning from what has been done in the past in order to improve. If we are 100% focused on the external, and we don’t do this inside work, which is required for us to establish a consistent environment, then we are actually subject to the environment’s way of the way things are going to go.
Consistency requires the inner fortitude to carry out what it is that you have planned and in order for success to happen. We are looking for those small daily improvements for long-term results. We are looking to really self-evaluate ourselves so we can realize exactly how to go about establishing a consistent environment.
Without consistency, without consistency, what you are saying to your children is, “It doesn’t matter,” “You can do what you want, and it’s going to be different every time,” and that gives them a playground to experiment in a lot of different ways. If you are consistent, however, and says, “These are the boundaries, these are the rules, this is the way it’s going to work,” then they have to work within the confines of what you’ve established.
It sounds so easy to talk about, but it really does require a lot of work on your part as a parent. My recommendation for a lot of parents is, take some time. You need to take some time and be introspective and figure out where you have your weaknesses and where you have your strengths, and then establish exactly how you can be consistent with the goals that you want for your child, okay, how you can be consistent. Now, as far as setting goals, because I said we would talk about how to set the goals, here is a gem that I consistently also share with a lot of parents, is that when you’re setting your goals, you want to set goals based on your effort. Set your goals on your effort and not on the fruits of those efforts.
Now, you’re probably going, “What in the world does that even mean?” Well, let me explain it to you. When you set a goal on your effort, what you’re doing is after that self-evaluation, you will know how far you can go and be committed and focused on consistency, right? That’s your effort. You’re going to base all of what you’re doing consistently, these skills that you’re learning based on your ability to do them.
You’re not going to base them on the fruit of that. A lot of parents want perfect kids that behave perfectly, right? I tell parents, “Let’s not focus on that,” Because again, a child has a mind and a will and a desire and is influenced by so many other things like whether or not they’re hungry, whether or not they’re tired. I mean, there are just so many other factors that are beyond your control, right? When you set goals that are based on your child’s behavior that way, you tend to fail because that is outside of your control, so you want to focus based on your ability to comply with the consistency of what you have within yourself, right?
It’s a win if a parent says, “Okay, I’m going to set this rule up and curfew is at 10:00, and I will enforce that rule because I know I can follow through with that and they follow through with it.” That is 100% win. Now, whether or not the child acts out after that, that’s a different story. Whether or not they complain, or they cry, or they punch holes in the walls, okay, that’s a different issue, but you as a parent should take stock and say, “Okay, I have been consistent enough that my child knows there’s a line there,” and that’s a win. That is an absolute win, okay?
Again, when you’re setting goals when you’re setting goals for the environment of your home setting around rules, set your goals around your own effort, your own ability to follow through, rather than setting it on the outcome, which is usually something that is beyond your control. Set goals for yourself. You’re setting goals. “Okay, I’m going to be consistent about this rule. This is exactly what I’m going to do,” and then do it every time.
Think about children who are first learning about the world around them. It takes a while for a child to realize that they want to walk through a wall, that the wall isn’t going to move. It’s not going to change because it’s consistent, right? Think about that consistency. The wall is never going to change.
The child will probably bump their head into the wall a couple of times, and then realize, “Well, that didn’t work so I got to try something new.” This is exactly the type of structure that we’re establishing when you are being consistent with the skills that you are using on the Smarter Parenting website. You are establishing these things that are consistent and that they are, they don’t change regardless of how your child acts. Now, your child could cry, could scream. I mean, if a baby tries to walk through a wall and they cry and scream, the wall doesn’t care, right?
The wall is like, “I’m a wall. This is the boundary. This is as far as you go.” Then the child learns, and that’s the whole idea behind it. Again, we are looking to establish a consistent environment where you are the one that’s in control of what you can do within that environment. Now again, when you’re looking back at your own weaknesses and strengths, this is where the challenge comes in because you have to evaluate, “Okay, if I’m working a full day and I come home and my child breaks a rule, can I be consistent in following through with that?” Now, you’re the one that’s going to have to answer that question.
I can’t answer that for you, however, if you cannot follow through with that, then you need to set a different goal, and you need to find one that you can set that you can follow through with. Now, we’re talking about a lot of great stuff, don’t you think? Again, take some time, be introspective. You also want to set goals based on your ability and your efforts to comply with what you are establishing in order to be consistent. Now, I want to talk about the last part, which is, “How do we measure success?”
I’ve already kind of hinted towards it, but success does not mean that your child is going to behave 100% of the time the way that you want them to behave. That’s not success. Success is being able to be consistent. That’s success. If you are able to be consistent in what you are doing, that is a huge win for you, and it’s a huge win for your child.
What it teaches is that you have boundaries, that they should have boundaries. You’re teaching them that rules are important and that rules are important in general society. You’re teaching them that they have to follow those rules, and that’s the way it is in the real world. They have to follow the rules. It’s just the way the world works, is understanding these concepts.
You’re actually showing them by your behavior and by the things that you are doing that you can be successful, but there are parameters around what you can absolutely do. One of the things that I definitely want to caution parents about is taking too much at one time. First, they want a quick fix. Okay. Quick fixes are not long fixes.
They’re not. You can get a quick fix and get a result, but we are looking at the long game. We’re looking at long-term, all right? We’re looking at things that will not hurt a relationship with you and your child, so parents want a quick fix. Well, quick fixes are great, but in the long-term, you’re going to have to go back and redo things, so you might as well do it right the first time.
The next thing that parents struggle with is they want to do it all at once. My recommendation, and I highly, highly recommend this after you do some introspection, is that you take some time, okay, to choose only one or two things, two max that you can be consistent with and you can add onto those as you master those initial things. With parents that are in a high-stress situation, whether they’re working or there’s a lot going on in the home, I have them focus on one thing. That’s it. Is there one thing we can be consistent about here? Is there a rule we can establish?
And you following through with that rule, just that one thing, and then we focus on that. Then, after they’re able to master that and the child is able to understand it, and realize it, and actually live it, then we add on something else, and then we continually build from there. What I have found in my experience is it takes a while for the first one to kick in and for everybody to be on board, but after that, two usually takes half the time, adding a third takes less time, adding a fourth, fifth, sixth, those actually decrease in the amount of time it takes for your child to adapt and adjust if you do the work upfront with the first one effectively. If you’re able to do it effectively, then yeah, you’re on the road to success, and that is a win. Take time to really do some self-evaluation and choose one thing that you can be consistent about that you know you can follow through with, whether or not you’re tired, whether or not you’re hungry, whatever it may be, but be consistent.
Yeah, lots and lots to talk about. This is one of those topics that comes up consistently when I’m working with parents, is, “How can we be consistent about doing this?” Now, as your child grows, the situation changes as well, and so that consistency may need to alter and change based on your child’s maturity and their ability to function, so that’s okay. You can make those adjustments, but it is important to establish that you are going to be consistent with rules, with expectations, and with things in the home the way that you want them to be. It’s super, super important.
This is really, I could go on probably for another two hours talking about consistency and different elements so I probably will revisit this idea of consistency and this idea of consistently Role-playing, which I think will be helpful in a future podcast. We’ll talk about the consistency of Role-play and practicing for your children when they’re young and when they’re teenagers in helping them to overcome anxiety and feelings of discomfort and actually guiding them along the path of what they need to do, but we’ll talk more about that later. Just remember, you need to be consistent, choose something small, celebrate the small changes that are happening. Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term success. Consistency is more important than perfection.
Set your goals based on your ability and your effort rather than on the fruits of those efforts. You’ve got this. You’ve absolutely got this, and of course, take some time to step back and evaluate your strengths and your weaknesses in establishing a consistent environment in your home. This is going to be huge in the way that you proceed. That’s actually the first step that you want to do is take some time, and you deserve it because think about it.
As a parent, you are consistently thinking about your children, constantly worried about them. You need to take a step back and evaluate yourself so you know how to proceed. Take that time. I give you permission. I’m giving you permission.
Get some coffee, drink some tea, relax, read a book, do some introspection and think about it, and be honest about it. You may not like what you see, but as long as you’re honest, you’re going to be able to move forward more effectively if you confront those things, and you can actually change those things, your weaknesses into strengths like we did with this mother and her child, so that’s it for me. I am praying for you. I’m doing my very best to cheer you on and the work that you’re doing. I’m grateful for the parents who’ve reached out for that 15-minute free coaching session on the Smarter Parenting website.
Keep reaching out. I have loved talking to each and every one of you and learning about what you’re struggling with and what you’re working with, and if you’ve noticed, for those who have called in, we have been able to nuance it based on very specific issues that you’re facing. If you haven’t already called in or signed up for a coaching session, do. It’s free, 15 minutes. You can do it on the Smarter Parenting website, and I would be so ecstatic to communicate and talk with you.
That’s it for me for now, and I will see you later. All right. Thanks. Bye.
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