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Striving for consistency to fix stubborn discipline issues... consistently

by Traci Schumacher on Mon, 03/04/2013 - 10:41am

The theme of consistency comes up over and over in various parenting and discipline methods... rather consistently, in fact. So I ask myself, “Am I consistent in disciplining my kids?”

I feel like I'm consistent because I am consistently dealing with the same issue, such as my 3-year-old not wanting to get dressed in the morning. He hates to get dressed for some reason. The mere mention of getting dressed brings on a meltdown. Every day.

I don't understand it at all. Getting dressed is something people do every day. Changing of the clothes... not a big deal. But to my son's little mind, it is a dreaded activity that he consistently seeks to avoid.

I have tried a variety of tactics to improve the situation for both of us. We have made a big deal out of selecting his clothes the night before. I have allowed him to eat breakfast first and then get dressed. I have told him he can eat breakfast as soon as he is dressed. I have carried him to the van in his pajamas when he is not ready in time to take his big siblings to school.

Regardless of my method, my boy insists on his meltdown. Bring on the tears, the droopy arms, the collapse on the floor complete with rolling around and unintelligible whining. Drama.

Fortunately, I have learned not to get emotionally sucked into this drama for the most part. My goal is simply to get everyone in the van in time to take the big kids to school.

But the other day I faced my son's usual meltdown and caught myself wondering, “What did I do about this yesterday?” And that's when it occurred to me that I am probably not sticking with the same method of dealing with the issue for a long enough time to judge whether it is working or not. I have been consistently dealing with the problem, but I have not been consistently applying the discipline for a consistently long enough period of time. Epiphany!

I don't know how long is “long enough” exactly, but I'm committing to three weeks of maintaining the same morning rules/routine for my little guy. What do I have to lose? He cries about getting dressed every day anyway, so we can't really make it any worse (she said fearfully).

And maybe we can turn this ship around and make mornings more pleasant for everyone. If it works, I'll make a new rule for myself: any discipline technique or rule must be enforced for three weeks before evaluating its effectiveness. That should straighten me out!

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