Consistency: The Key to Discipline

Written by Regine Galanti

Discipline. It’s a topic on every parent’s mind – what’s the best way to get my child to listen? To obey? To become a healthy adult with self-control? How does a parent raise these obedient, independent, self-disciplined children without using excessive punishment, control, or other methods that might hurt my child’s self esteem, or our relationship?

There is a great deal of controversy revolving around the subject of discipline, possibly because some equate it with punishment and control. Rather than using it as a punisher, however, discipline can simply be a very effective means of limit setting. When used appropriately – using the guidelines of modern behavioral science – discipline can help a child learn self-control, but help strengthen the parent-child bond.

To be effective, one of the main ingredients in good discipline is consistency. From the perspective of the child, consistency means that the world becomes a more predictable place, and therefore much less confusing. I often tell parents that good discipline is like a brick wall: It doesn’t move, and if you crash into it, it hurts. Every. Single. Time. Discipline which is consistent teaches children an important life lesson: Sometimes there is no movement, no flexibility, just reality.

More often than not, parents treat discipline as a rubber band, expanding and contracting to different lengths based on how angry they feel at their child. For example, on Monday, when mom asks the kids to brush their teeth she is ready and willing to follow through with consequences if they don’t listen the first time, but on Tuesday, she’s willing to give the children three warnings, and on Thursday, she don’t follow through at all. This approach is tantamout to putting children second. Think about the message this gives to children: It basically begs them to test limits. The inconsistency of consequences teaches children that they should test limits, because they’re likely to get away with not listening.

From the perspective of the adult, consistency has value as well. It forces parents to think about what really matters to them (and their children), because it is impossible to be consistent about everything. Therefore, maintaining consistency helps parents to limit the number of rules, keeping them the same from day to day, and respond to rule violations in the same way every single time. Committing to consistency requires thinking before you speak, and asking yourself the question, “am I willing to respond to this behavior the same way every single time it happens?” If the answer is yes, then this is a behavior worth addressing.

Finally, consistency in discipline means being firm and showing your children that you will do what you say. This does not mean that it is necessary to raise your voice. Instead, if you consistently follow through in a calm but firm manner, your child will learn to listen the first time. If, on the other hard, your child throws a tantrum for a piece of candy and you give it to him, you will teach him to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way. To teach a child that your words have value, you need to stand by your words, instead of encouraging inappropriate behavior by giving in.

There are no magic discipline techniques, but almost any consequence can be effective if it used consistently (i.e., logical or naturalistic consequences, withholding privileges and time outs are all effective discipline strategies, in general, but that’s for another blog post). A good guideline, however, is that the consequence should be fair and developmentally appropriate. When used consistently and fairly, discipline is an effective way to help children change their behavior, and grow into health, self-disciplined adults, and enhance the parent-child relationship.

Inspirational Message

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

Our Locations

Private, discrete, and accessible care.

Speak with a Patient Care Manager

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY