Ever blamed your child's behavior on your own inconsistency? Totally understandable!
Each week in December I'm going to be sharing misconceptions surrounding parenting strong-willed kids that hold you back from having the relationship and home you truly desire!
This week, I share when consistency is critical, when it's not, and why it's not the cure-all you might think it is!
IN THIS EPISODE, I SHARE...
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Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean, have too much anxiety. Not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here. Hey, it's Danielle. Welcome back to Failing Motherhood, I'm so glad you're here. I just got done putting on my heels and my lipstick and doing a dance party in my office because I'm weird. And that's what I do, do hype up my energy and just feel so much fun and so much joy. And when I get to create these episodes for you, and I want it to come across, I genuinely am so passionate about what I do. I love what I do so much. And I'm so honored and just like lucky to have created this business and be able to do what I do and work with the families I do. It is a huge sense of gratitude for me, I'm so glad that you're here. I'm so glad that the podcast is still here. And that you are taking the time. Whether you are traveling for the holidays right now or trying to hide out in the bathroom. Solidarity, I hope that there is sanity nearby ready for you. Even if you just get to pop in an earbud and tune in your kids are lucky to have you. Let me say that the best gift you could give them is the gift of patience. And I know if you are turning tuning into this episode, that is a huge priority for you. So kudos, so so so glad that I can be here to support you. So welcome back to part three of this mini series. Each week in December, I'm going to be sharing misconceptions surrounding parenting strong willed kids that sabotage your success, hold you back from having the relationship and the home you truly desire. And just create a lot of confusion and conflicting information from what you think you should be doing versus what is really, really truly going to work for you. So the first episode, I was talking about the families I work with and the work that I do and who I am as a coach, the second episode was diving into consequences and the compulsion and the need to feel like you have to find the right one. So go back to those if you haven't yet. And part three today. The another big belief that the families I work with have, the parents of strong-willed kids have, the worrying warriors have, is we just need to be consistent, their behavior will get better over time. Have you ever said that before? And it's totally understandable that they believe this! Because surely that's how learning works, right? There are whole methods based on this one principle. And they know that they sometimes go back on their word, as in, they say no snacks after dinner, because you didn't eat your food. But then later on when they whine you say okay, you can have a snack actually. Or there's inconsistency between partners like mom says no screen time, then dad, dad gets home and turns it on. So of course, this must be the problem that needs to get fixed. This must be the reason for the behavior they're still seeing. And as they get more mature, surely, they will stop doing what gets negative responses and keep doing more of the positive if the response is the same every time. Right? If consistency was all it took to raise good humans, it feels like the equation wouldn't be too difficult to execute. It sure would be lovely if that's all it took. So today, let's break this down. And I want to help you understand why consistency does matter. But maybe not for the reasons you may think. Because Hear me when I say consistency does matter, just not in the ways that you've been doing it before or getting really hard on yourself. Or maybe it's more in the goal of the consistency or the outcome that you're expecting on the back end. So first, let's talk about when consistency does matter. I totally commend you, if you want to create a more healthy sense of predictability for your kids, and reiterate the same expectations, day to day and respond and pretty similar ways as parenting partners. I would 100% support you on that. Otherwise, life is confusing AF for our kids. And their job is to learn how the world works. That is their job as when their brains are developing from one to seven, well, zero to seven, they are genuinely, they get their lasers out, they are looking for consistencies and inconsistencies. They're trying to poke out flaws, they are trying to figure out how does this world work? What do I need to do to get my needs met? And the things that might present as manipulation is genuinely just what makes the most logical sense, given all the evidence that they have had up until this point so far. So their behavior still makes sense, even if it doesn't truly make sense to us. So some of the situations where consistency is key. For example, when you pick them up from daycare, and they don't want to leave, or for older kids after care if you know, you know, some days, you say you need to leave right away. And some days, you let them stay in play for 10 more minutes, and then another 10 more minutes. That inconsistency can compound your inability to be kind and firm. Because when they ask that same question, they get different results, different answers. So of course, that's going to inadvertently invite more pushback, more whining, because it works. And of course, they're going to try to figure out, okay, if A plus B equals C, in the past, there's, it's been reinforcing, because sometimes when I beg and when I whine, I do get the answer I'm looking for, and I'm able to stay longer. So let me try that again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. That does sabotage you as a parent, it does hit you down at the knees, because you're not creating a sense of predictability. And when they asked the same question, they get the same answer. And I don't recommend complete consistency. And I'll get into that in a second. Because we are humans raising humans, there has to be an element of exceptions to the rule. But overall, if your goal in your consistency is to reduce the amount of inviting power struggles, helping things feel more in control for your kids, the goal is to have one answer every time they ask the same question so that they're more supported. And so for a family that's in that situation, I just had pulled that example from real life from earlier today with a client, I suggested, either they have a blanket response, where every time they get there, they give their child the choice between leaving now or in five minutes. And that's always the approach, or we make it non negotiable. And it is time to leave, I know how and validating that I know how much you want to leave. And we do have to go because the needs of the family are just as important as that child's need to want to play. And you know, they're taking a parking spot. And Mom's already started on dinner at home and you know, all these other things are happening. And so we have to you know, and your brother's with us and he wants to go. So, then taking on the approach of how can we add control to that moment? Well, we can offer him the opportunity to pick the music in the car or have a snack that he's looking forward to that he can get as soon as he gets in. Right. There's a lot of other problem solving that can happen that way of more above and beyond this consistent approach. But that consistent approach is key to setting them up for success long term so that eventually we get through this power struggle rather than feeding it. You either feed it with inconsistency, or you allow it to die with consistency. But it's not the end all be all and it's not the thing where if I was to tell this parent K tomorrow, you just tell him no, we're never going to stay later for aftercare no matter how much you beg and whine. Yes, I mean, maybe down the road that behavior dies because he stops asking but Honestly, he's going to have to do, it's like whack a mole, every time you're going to have to deal with other behaviors, then because maybe he's going to start trying to like, figure out how to get in a situation where he can't leave, you know, a pickup, or there's going to be other behaviors that come as a result from not feeling understood or connected with his dad. And it's just never that black and white. It's always a little bit more complicated, because again, we're humans raising humans. Another example to break down is when they ask questions repeatedly, over and over and over. If you have a strong-willed child, you have been there, and you have talked about it, and you have addressed it and they still won't stop asking about it. I was working with a family on a call last week where their strong-willed child just would not let up about going to the arcade, because they had said, yeah, some time we can go to the arcade. So she would not stop asking. And like a day or two later, they just ended up going so that they would get her to stop asking, like we have addressed it. I don't understand why she continues to ask. And what I helped them understand is she asked because she wants clarity, she wants an answer. And a lot of times we give responses that are too vague, or we don't give one at all. And that just invites that push back again, it invites a Groundhog Day of asking the same question over and over. Because, yes, they want it to go their way. But even more, they just want to figure out the why or the formula behind being able to predict our response. And when it is all over the board, it's a lottery system. It invites that it works for them to continue asking or to wear you down, or you know, to keep whining, or nagging. So what I told this family is when you get this question over and over about their paid, yes, you can initially talk about it. But as soon as you notice that this, this problem is not going away, you need to know that. Okay, she's looking for a much more concrete answer. I don't have to have tickets and have a day on our calendar exactly figured out of when we're going to go yet. It's great if you do but if you don't, you can at least say hey, you know what, I know this is really important to you. Let's write this down on a post it note, let's put it on the fridge. And on Sunday, when we look at our calendar for next week, we'll plan a day to go. Even just delaying the decision another week. But making it concrete as in this will get addressed and we will continue to have this conversation puts them at ease. They're able to be like, Okay, there's a plan, all you need to have is a plan towards the plan, not even the plan itself. And that will allow that to not be reinforcing for all the negative behaviors that you're still experiencing. The last example I have for why consistency does matter, is for your relationship with your child. They want to know what they can expect from you, as in how safe they feel with you, and how you handle them in good moments and bad moments. And if they do the exact same behavior, let's say whining about a sibling, not giving them something that's never happened to your house. The whining if they do it at Monday night at 8pm. And they do the exact same behavior Saturday morning at 10am. But you react wildly differently in both of those scenarios. That just reveals number one, how much is going on for you that affects your ability to parent, and it has nothing to do with them in those moments. And it can also over time as an established pattern cause them to feel like they don't know at any given moment which parent they're going to get the patient one or the irritated one or anywhere in between. And we're human, there's never going to be perfection. And that's not the goal here not complete consistency every single time we respond to them. But you can't solve a problem you can't name if you recognize that inconsistency is an established pattern in your home. Being able to become aware of that is an important step towards working on it. So okay, that pretty much sounds like consistency is the answer for all behavior modification moving forward. However, let's look at the other side of the coin. When does consistency not matter. So, if you believe your child's behavior will get better over time with consistency, let's decide together whether that's true, if consistency was all it took to change their behavior, surely they wouldn't continue to push back on things that you have been consistent about since day one. Like, I don't know, for instance, not playing in the dog's water bowl, or not hitting their sibling when they're mad or not forgetting that we get dressed first thing every morning. But they do, at least my kids do. I don't know about yours, it continues to happen. So why? That shouldn't be! That shouldn't happen. If they've heard a lesson. And they've gotten that lesson over and over and over, this shouldn't be an issue and yet it continues to be an issue. So that's sus. Right. And we all knew a few kids growing up, who notoriously had strict parents. That child knew exactly what their parents were going to say about a question before they ever asked it. Did that truly benefit them in the long run? Or did it in fact, invite rebellion, due to a divide and lack of understanding or connection in the relationship? I know a lot of the most strict families growing up when I was in high school, ended up having the craziest parties. And being the ones sneaking out out of their window, their bedroom window in the middle of the night, and just working really hard not to get caught, as opposed to truly internalizing this value system. And it becoming part of their identity, that this is why they act in a certain way. So these kids had super consistent parents, but yet the outcomes were not what probably their parents were hoping for. Missed the mark there. And I'm going to bring it up again. Because the book I said not to read last week, 123 magic, it is completely around this consistency idea that you count to three at every sign of perceived disobedience, disrespect, or emotion. Because it's all ploys by your child to manipulate you. So you have to be consistent in sending the message back to them, that defends your authority. And that sends a clear message of what behavior is appropriate. And I was just looking up on Amazon, and there's tons of raving reviews by parents saying it's very easy to implement. And it works to stop the behavior in the moment. So I have to give you this caveat that if it seems too good to be true, as a behavior modification strategy, it likely is because this strategy is projecting the whole theory in and of itself is manipulating your child. It's ignoring. And that ignoring is teaching your child to ignore you. If they don't like what you're doing down the road, there's actually a review that talks about how their friend has used it like for, you know, seven or eight years, and her eight year old now basically doesn't talk to her. Because why would she? If every time she comes to her mom with a problem, she counts to three. And that's the only thing that's been modeled for her is that if you don't like what someone's doing, you don't talk to them. So a lot of parents say that that strategy is actually not easy to implement, it's actually difficult because their intuition, or their mom gut is screaming at them, when they're maybe have an older child, and they're really trying to get them to sleep in their bed and break up bad habit. But they're clinging and you do actually want to stay with them until they fall asleep. It's not wrong to listen to that voice. When consistency feels impossible or wrong, it likely is in that moment. And you have to be able to trust yourself that you are becoming the student of your child and realizing what works or doesn't work with them. Regardless of whether that strategy is highly reviewed on Amazon. So the point I'm getting to here is in real life actuality, when we zoom out and look long term, without a child being modeled and taught the skills, they are lacking. The coping strategies, they're lacking the perspective they are lacking, their behavior doesn't improve over time. It may be temporarily stopped, but different messages become internalized, like realizing it's not safe. If to go to my parents, they can't handle me. And my problems are my emotions. I am misunderstood, and alone. And that over time evolves into anxiety and more mental health problems. lack of motivation at school and the inability to cope with change and stress. Behavior is always communication. It's there's always a message to decode in any one behavior, or a reason for it that is legit, like low blood sugar or opening overtired or something else going on. Letting that message go unheard and untreated is like putting a bandaid on an infection, it might look better, but it's only going to get worse. So by using the tool of consistency with almost any one strategy, you're missing a vital point of early intervention for skill building, and for your influence. Because first you teach, then you counsel and then you coach. Without that teaching element, you're not able to continue to move up in Independence. You have so much more influence now in the early years than you will 10 years from now. They don't just figure this all out on their own. That's what the parent child relationship is for. And that's an immense responsibility to raise a well adjusted human. And again, not to mention that it is truly downright impossible to be consistent 100% of the time. So even if that premise was airtight that it's just all you have to do is be consistent every single time and their behavior will improve. You're physically unable to follow through and do that. Do you respond the same exact way every time your partner asks you for a favor? No, because you have waning capacity, or different circumstances surrounding it are other tasks on your plate at that time, you're human. So it depends. Your response to your child should depend. It should be individualized, your human raising a human, your responses to them should be as informed and intentional as possible. Not a blanket formula of A plus B equals C, your child deserves to be understood to be taught the skills that they need to succeed in the most powerful way, which is your modeling. And have your responses lead with composure, patience, and thoughtfulness. And it's equally empowering for you to actually understand their behavior, and know what's going on with them and how to fix it or what to do to help rather than feeling at the mercy of a rigid system of responses that is out of your hands to change. So if you've been crossing your fingers for a couple years now hoping that with consistency, your child's behavior will improve. And you're not seeing the outcome you're looking for. If you're still dealing with power struggles and lots of big emotional meltdowns, borderline fits of rage. And your child is no longer one and a half and can't talk but they are three and they are four. And they are almost in kindergarten or they're five. And they're holding it in together at school and then letting it all out on you. You need more you need more support, you need more understanding and perspective and you need more tools, so that you just have this whole arsenal to pull from. And it becomes a lot more versatile and diverse and fully faceted and comprehensive of an approach rather than something that is just lacking in a lot of ways. So I hope that this short bit has helped you understand where consistency falls and in your toolkit as a parent, and when it is key and we'll how it's still a factor and what is not, as in an end-all be-all cure for what you're looking for and why you don't have to truly beat yourself up for not being as consistent as you think you need to be, while at the same time helping you understand what's missing from what you're doing right now. So this was a hugely expanded version of one of the bullet points of the learning from my free training, Authentic and Unapologetic, learning how to confidently parent your strong-willed child without giving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles guilt and self-doubt. So if you haven't dug in and watched that training yet go ahead and sign up and pop in in your bed and dive in right now, you can go to parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic. And if you've watched it, and in 2023, it's really been weighing on your heart to get more support and more tools in this area. Because parenting is a huge aspect of your life, and you just feel ill-equipped. And that's okay, because that's how we all show up to this. And you didn't know or sign up for having a strong-willed child. But here you are, and you have found this podcast, and you're just ready for a next step. Go ahead and go to parentingwholeheartedly.com/apply. And you can just share a little bit more about your family. And then I will based off of that, make sure that I feel good that I can help you and that you would be a good fit for my programs because they are very close knit and small. And if that's true, then I will get back to you and within 48 hours of what that next step is so that I can answer all of your questions and individualize the solution for your family. So go ahead and take that next step as you're really reflecting on New Year's plans and just like a fresh start and giving you the hope that you need to feel that you can have a plan. And you can have a person that knows you and your family so that we can individualize solutions together. I would love to have the opportunity to come alongside you in the new year. Now's as good a time as any right? So let's do this. Go ahead and check out those links will be in the show notes. I am so so so proud of you. You made it. You have work day in and day out to continue being there for your kids. They are lucky to have you. They say thank you and enjoy your holidays. Happy holidays from me and my family. Remember, you are the parent your kids need. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.