What does it mean to be consistent? Why is it so important for children?
Are you constantly "bargaining" with your child? Do you feel like your relationship is a never-ending power struggle? Better consistency might be the answer to your struggles.
One of the easiest and simplest ways to improve a child's behavior is to be consistent with your own expectations and reactions.
When you are consistent with your expectations and boundaries, your child has a greater sense of stability and safety. Consistency, especially when it comes to discipline, has been linked to more positive outcomes in young children1.
When you are consistent with what you have said and you follow through, your words have more meaning. It also helps secure a stronger and more secure attachment with your child2.
When you are consistent with routines and structures, you increase predictability. This makes your child navigates the day with more ease and it reduces their frustration. It can also promote better learning because your child knows what to expect from their environment3.
When you are consistent with positive parent-child interactions, you strengthen trust and a healthy relationship with your child. It has also been linked to a lower risk of depressive and physical health symptoms such as flu4.
Without consistency, your child might be confused about what is allowed and not allowed. This may lead to them "misbehaving" or testing the boundaries often. All of it can mean never-ending power struggles that leave you drained each day.
Where to start? Here are a few tips:
Try to focus on one aspect of consistency first (e.g. consistent with the rules). Once it is established, you can start working on more aspects of consistency
Use visuals to establish rules and routines at home.
When following through with what you said, stay calm yet firm.
Schedule a time every day to have positive interactions with your child.
Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect and you won't be consistent perfectly 100% of the time. It is ok and you can always aim to be better, not perfect.
If you require help and guidance in establishing consistency at home, you can contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Halgunseth LC, Perkins DF, Lippold MA, Nix RL. Delinquent-oriented attitudes mediate the relation between parental inconsistent discipline and early adolescent behavior. Journal of Family Psychology. 2013;27(2):293–302. doi:10.1037/a0031962.
2. Ainsworth MDS, Blehar MC, Waters E, Wall S. Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Psychology Press; New York, NY: 1978.
3. Bandura A. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review. 1977;84(2):191.
4. Lippold MA, Davis KD, Lawson KM, McHale SM. Day-to-day Consistency in Positive Parent-Child Interactions and Youth Well-Being. J Child Fam Stud. 2016 Dec;25(12):3584-3592. doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0502-x. Epub 2016 Aug 19. PMID: 28736495; PMCID: PMC5519304.