- conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
We hear it all the time… be consistent!
When we talk about behavior and our children, to teach a new or desired behavior, consistency is one of the key components to achieving success. When it comes to sleep training or coaching it is certainly no exception.
As parents we may believe that we are being consistent, but are we REALLY?
If when you describe your night time routine or your child’s sleep patterns, you find that you are using the words “sometimes” or “ if he does this then we do _____ but if he does this then we do_____” then chances are you aren’t being as consistent as you think.
When we are emotionally invested, it is sometimes difficult to realize where our “inconsistencies” may lie. You may want to write out or log what your bedtime routine is, how you handle night wakings or bedtime battles and compare it with the other caregivers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Babies and young children have excellent software! They program very quickly, and it only takes a few times for a parent to react to a certain behavior in a way that teaches the child what they need to do in order to get that reaction again. Be mindful of your reactions, are they the same reactions you had the night before for the same behavior? Did you allow your baby to cry for 40 minutes but then picked them up ? Did you start a method and on night 3 you gave in and brought your baby to bed?
Dr. Sunjay Kansagra, director of Duke Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program had a great example of this in his book “My Child Won’t Sleep” that has become one of my favorite analogies.
“Did your child become a gambler?”
He writes, “When we gamble, we intermittently win. That’s what makes gambling so addictive. We keep trying to win, even if we lose multiple times. If you reward the crying intermittently by feeding or picking up the child, he or she has become a gambler.”
Such a great example….so, do you have a little gambler?