Sunday, September 05, 2010

Inconsistent Consistency

In traditional parenting it is so crucially important to be consistent. Always! Follow through with immediate consequences every time it’s needed. Developmentally normal children will eventually catch on and develop the cause and effect that is part of the natural social and emotional development that God created.

I have memories of whole days trying to be the consistent parent while my boys would just go through the behavior chart and do everything they weren’t supposed then come and tell me what I was supposed to do because of their behavior. I was their puppet. I was a confused puppet because all I had learned about parenting was that if we were consistent in our responses to behavior then they would learn eventually.

Guess what… they NEVER learned!! I wore myself out being consistent.

With RAD kids, the 100% consistent and immediate response just provides another avenue of control so we have to flip that to effectively parent.

RAD kids need consistency but they don’t need to always have predictable consequences. It helps them to think and develop cause & effect if we can keep them guessing. So RAD parents sometimes practice consistency, inconstantly.

Simply put that means we will always do *something* but they won’t always know what we are going to do. Our therapist has said we really can do anything. We are the parents and whatever we decide on for a consequence (remaining within the legal and moral realms) is good.

In the times that I have been on top of my game I have provided crazy and humorous consequences. “Stop, or I will tap dance!!” … That almost always elicits a laugh and it does provide cause & effect. And nurturing consequence; “You obviously need to be tickled/hugged/filled with sweetness (given something sweet to eat). During times of extreme frustration (mine) or complete deregulation (theirs) I have just reached into their room and taken something. Even a pencil lost, is a consequence. It doesn’t have to be something of value, it just has to be something that I, the mom, decided to do. The more it leaves them wondering what in the world we are doing, the better. So break the pattern, be inconsistent and make them think.


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