Tue. Mar 26th, 2019

Communicating with LOVE: Listening

 You’ve probably heard it said that love is not a noun; it’s a verb. According to an acronym that helps people remember communication skills, LOVE is four verbs: ListeningOfferingValidating, and Empathizing. You’ll hit more green lights when you communicate with LOVE.

LISTENING

There are many ways to listen to another person, some more helpful than others. A powerful therapeutic approach called Motivational Interviewing emphasizes four strategies: open-ended questioning, affirming, reflecting or active listening, and summarizing. It’s an approach to listening that helps the red lights turn green, instead of driving straight through and hoping for the best.

1. Open-ended questions – These are questions that call for some elaboration, that can’t be answered with one word (e.g. “What concerns you most?” “What would you like to be different?”). Open questions invite description, giving you, the listener, more to listen to and learn from. They also set a collaborative tone, as they communicate more interest in your child’s view. Open-ended questions should be inviting information (from them), not suggesting information (from you).

Closed questionOpen-ended question
“Are you mad at your teacher for calling us?”“What is your reaction to your teacher calling us?”
“Do you think you shouldn’t have a curfew?” “What about this curfew do you think isn’t fair?” 

2. Affirmations – Listen for the positives. Communication can easily become all about what’s wrong. Noticing what’s going right and explicitly acknowledging it can change everything: it puts some balance back in the conversation, holds a positive connection, and keeps you headed for green lights. How? Affirming statements reduce defensiveness, which helps when you get to tougher issues (what’s not going so well). They also build self-esteem and reinforce positive behaviors. Affirmations are not cheerleading, which is more general; they refer to something specific. Highlighting your child’s strengths and recognizing positive behaviors will improve your relationship with your child and help her to change.

For example, you can:

  • Acknowledge effort: “You’re really showing some commitment to getting home on time.”
  • State your appreciation: “I appreciate your openness and honesty today.”
  • Catch the person doing something right: “Thanks for helping your brother.”
  • Give a compliment: “I like the way you said that. You really have a way with people.”
  • Express hope, caring, or support: “I hope this weekend goes well for you!”

3. Reflections – Also called active listening, reflections involve restating some or all of what you think the person talking to you said. Your reflection can simply restate the words you heard, or it may reflect the feeling in the words; it can even infer meaning, as long as you are open to maybe getting it wrong! Reflections are statements, not questions (which can slow down or redirect the other person).

As well as communicating that you understand what your child is saying, reflections make sure you actually do understand what she is saying—or, if you get it wrong, that you are trying. Reflecting is not necessarily agreeing, but it is being willing to hear how your child sees things, instead of immediately countering. Reflective listening helps a discussion go forward, even or especially after you’ve hit a red light.

4. Summaries – With open questions, affirmations, and reflections, you may end up in a long and productive conversation! Summarizing communicates that you were listening, and helps pull together the important things that were said. It also helps your child to organize her thoughts more coherently if they were jumbled, if you can tie them together in a logical way, and can lead her to connect certain dots. Summaries can even guide the conversation toward a next step, without forcing an agenda. Like reflections, summaries should come with permission for your child to disagree with or correct the record as you recount it. Try to summarize as accurately as possible, without editing the conversation to include what you wished she had said.

Communicating with LOVE: Offering Information

THE INFORMATION SANDWICH

Part of parenting is providing information that your child needs to grow up and get along in the world, from reasons to wear a bike helmet and how to open a bank account to what time is curfew, as well as feedback about how things—his behavior, your interactions—are going. In fact, information and feedback figure in any human interchange, not just with your child. The “information sandwich” technique is a three-step process for making information (the contents of the sandwich) palatable for the other person. By layering information between asking permission and checking back or clarifying after, sandwiching helps the person receive it, take it in, and feel empowered to use it.

1. Asking permission – This conversational equivalent of knocking on the door before you enter has several benefits. First, by asking permission to give them information, you help the other person make a fundamental motivational shift: you allow him to invite you in. Consider your interactions with people: if someone shows up at your house unexpectedly, it’s a different proposition than when you have asked for the company. In the latter case, you can prepare and arrange things in a way that is comfortable for you. You can give your child a similar courtesy in conversation.

For example:

  • “Would it be helpful for you to hear about…?”
  • “Could I offer a thought?”
  • “Can I ask a question?”
  • “I have a couple of ideas…but did you want to say your ideas first?”
  • “Would it be alright if I expressed one concern I have about this plan?”

Asking permission is one way to make sure the light is green before you proceed with the content of your discussion, and it increases the chances that the light will be green, as it enhances your child’s sense of safety and control. Plus, it honors his independence by giving him a choice. This may seem like a small point, but it can have a profound effect on the conversation when your child feels like he is a participant rather than a passive or reluctant recipient of your words— the difference between talking at and talking with. This spirit of collaboration is fundamental to motivational therapies, and is equally powerful in conversations. Asking permission increases the likelihood that the other person will hear what follows. One last point: truly asking permission means leaving room for them to say “No, I’d rather not hear this right now.” It is so much better to know this than to speak to deaf ears.

2. Providing information – Permission granted, you would relate the information or feedback in question. Here are a few tips.

  • Provide options. Whenever possible, it helps to offer more than one good option. It’s harder to reject multiple options wholesale, as it puts your child in a position to weigh the pros and cons of each rather than simply say “no.”
  • Offer; don’t impose. By the same logic of asking permission, your child will more likely hear, appreciate, and use information that is offered rather than forced on him.
  • Allow disagreement. As much as possible, leave room for your child to not accept or agree with the information. By asking permission and providing options you better the chances that he will, but it’s still his right to disagree. Collaborators don’t tell each other what to do; they resolve it together. Allowing for disagreement means the conversation doesn’t depend on agreement to go forward or, conversely, come to a screeching halt every time you disagree.

We’re not suggesting that you and your child act as equals in all things, with no hierarchy of authority and everybody “just being friends.” But to the extent you can allow your child autonomy and stay in communication, you will encounter less defensiveness—in other words, more green lights.

3. Checking back or clarifying – The top layer of the sandwich helps your child process the information and remain open to the discussion. Essentially, you want to know how the information was received: whether your child understood the information or feedback, whether it was digestible or emotionally acceptable—or did he get too mad, hurt, or sad to take in what you said?—and so on. For example:

  • “Does that make sense to you?”
  • “I just wanted to check back about…”
  • “I’m not sure I said that very clearly…”

All together, the sandwich technique is a great way to keep communication open and constructive, offering chances to understand if there is a breakdown, as well as to develop collaboration.

Communicating with LOVE: Validating and Empathizing

The last two letters of LOVE have less to do with specific strategies and more with the background music of communication: understanding where your child is coming from, or what it’s like to walk the world in her shoes (empathy); and acknowledging her experience—her thoughts, feelings, motivations, and perspective—as valid (validation). As we discussed with the use of reflections, you can validate and empathize without endorsing your child’s behavior.

VALIDATING

Validating is the simple act of acknowledging another person’s experience without needing to qualify it in any way. Adolescents and young adults, especially, need validation as they naturally struggle to define who they are, what they can and cannot do, “who’s the boss of them,” and how they will manage themselves and their life. Young people with substance problems and related issues can end up with a pervasive sense of feeling invalidated by their parents and others. Assuring a young person that you do not view her as stupid or crazy or delinquent takes a major tinderbox out of the conversation.

EMPATHIZING

Also not a strategy, but a powerful function of communication, empathy is truly feeling “where the other person is coming from”—how she understands her situation, her point of view—and conveying this in some way to your child, often in only a few words (“wow, that seems really scary”; “that would have made me really mad too”). It is a powerful tool in reducing shame and helping your child open up to different ways of thinking about things.

Both empathizing and validating are conveyed through your attitude and approach (respectful, kind, open, and so on) as much as with specific words.

Together, these four aspects of communicating with L-O-V-E will facilitate hearing, being heard, and communicating in a more caring, respectful way with your child as well as in your life. We again suggest practicing as the key to getting better at these skills, and in particular practicing in “easier,” less stressful situations, rather than starting with the most important and tension-filled topic you need to discuss with your child.

The 7 Elements of Positive Communication

In addition to the LOVE communication skills taken from Motivational Interviewing, CRAFT prescribes positive communication skills as additional communication tools for your toolbox. You might be thinking: “wouldn’t that be nice…to just be positive!” But CRAFT breaks it down into seven elements, all within your reach. These elements will improve any kind of communication, but they are especially useful for making requests. What we have found with these seven elements is they are both straightforward and difficult to do, so practice is important.

“Positive communication” does not mean only saying nice things and avoiding conflict. Here’s what it does mean: (For examples and more explanation, see our chapter on Positive Communication in Beyond Addiction.)

  1. Be Brief
    Most people say more than necessary when they haven’t planned it in advance, especially when nervous or angry. Try to hone in on your central request ahead of time, and stick to it. Script, edit, and rehearse what you want to say as concisely as possible. Extraneous words can drown out your core message (as in the “waa waa waa” of Charlie Brown’s teacher).
  2. Be Specific
    Vague requests are easy to ignore or misunderstand, and are often difficult to translate into concrete behavior. In contrast, referring to specific behaviors instead of thoughts or feelings makes change observable, measurable, and reinforceable. For instance, instead of telling your child to “be more responsible,” specify a behavior you want to see more of: “On school days, I want you to get up when your alarm goes off.”
  3. Be Positive
    Where “positive” entails describing what you want, instead of what you don’t want. This shifts the framing from critical and complaining to supportive and doable, and ties into positive reinforcement strategies, since it’s easier to reward someone for doing something—a concrete, verifiable thing—than for not doing something. Being positive in this way decreases defensiveness and rebellion and promotes motivation. Framed positively, “Stop coming home late” becomes “Come home by curfew time.”
  4. Label Your Feelings
    Kept brief and in proportion, a description of your emotional reaction to the problem at hand can help elicit empathy and consideration from your child. For best results, state your feelings in a calm, nonaccusatory manner. If your feelings are very intense, it can be a good strategy to tone them down. So if you were feeling “furious and terrified” you might say “frustrated and worried.”
  5. Offer an Understanding Statement
    The more the other person believes that you “get” why he is acting the way he is, the less defensive he will be and the more likely to hear you and oblige. Plus, trying to understand your child’s perspective builds your empathy, which will help the relationship.
  6. Take Partial Responsibility
    Sharing in a problem, even a tiny piece of the problem, decreases defensiveness and promotes collaboration. It shows your child that you’re interested in solving, not blaming. Accepting partial responsibility does not mean taking the blame or admitting fault; it communicates “We’re in this together.”
  7. Offer to Help
    Especially when phrased as a question, an offer to help can communicate non-blaming, problem-solving support. Try asking, “Would it help if…?” Or simply, “How can I help?” A little goes a long way to improve communication and generate ideas. (“Yeah, if you texted me a reminder, that would help.”)

Avoiding Conversational Traps

There are classic communication traps you can recognize a mile away… if you know what to look for. Here are some of the most common.

The Information Trap: If only he knew the facts he would see things differently and change. Information can be helpful, especially when it fills a gap. It is less helpful to tell your child something he already knows. When you do have fresh information, offering it in a “sandwich” as you learned in Section 3 will maximize the chances that it gets across. But there are no magic words for change, so try to be patient. Improving the quality of your communication over time will help, as well as being a valuable change in and of itself.

The Lecture Trap: This is a deeper information trap. One sign that you have entered this trap is when you find yourself talking “at” your child about what you think he should do, what his problems are, what went wrong last week, and so on, rather than talking “with” him.

The Labeling Trap: Labels are not necessary for change, and at times get in the way. This trap results in a conversation being about labels and not behavior (“You’re an addict.” —“No, I’m not”).

The Blaming Trap: When you’re worried, frustrated, or sad about a situation, it is easy to get stuck in the blaming trap—who is at fault or who is to blame? This trap shuts down a conversation and backs your child’s motivation into a corner.The Taking-Sides Trap: If you take only one side of a discussion, it’s practically a set up for your child to take the other, and she may end up defending behaviors she actually feels ambivalent about. Instead of one side against the other you can be on the same side, the side of constructive conversation, considering different options together.

The Question-and-Answer Trap: Closed questions set off this trap and result in an interview, or worse, an interrogation (“Did you get high last night? Did you forget your phone? Did you do your homework?”). Open questions are more likely to steer your conversation to a productive exchange.

Helping with Actions

This section will cover a variety of critical tools for encouraging change in your child’s behavior and motivation. It follows “Helping with Self Care” and “Helping with Words” because the skills in those sections are the foundations of sustaining change and keeping things on track day-to-day. The tools in this section will help you understand motivation and how it is different for different people, how to reinforce new and positive behaviors as well as how to deal with negative behaviors, how to understand and allow for ambivalence in your child (and the sometimes jagged upward course of change), and very importantly, paying attention to collaboration with your co-parent.

How To Solve A Problem

We start this section with the topic of problem solving because that’s what you are facing! Your child’s substance use, as well as the ensuing problems with communication, behavior, friend choices, school performance, and emotional development (you name it!). We will discuss all of these issues, but as we start this process we want you to have a general strategy for approaching ANY problem.

CRAFT (among other behavioral approaches) sets out seven steps for solving problems.* This approach will take you beyond painful avoidance strategies and unreliable quick fixes to help you work through problems thoroughly and systematically. As you practice with these steps, try to apply (and give yourself credit for) what you already do well, and take the time you need to learn what would be useful that you don’t already know.

  1. Define the problem as narrowly as you can.
    Often what people take as “the problem” is actually many
    smaller problems lumped together. No wonder they feel overwhelmed. When you describe a problem, be on the lookout for multiple problems embedded within your description, and tease them apart. The idea is to tackle one relatively discrete problem at a time. Solutions are more manageable with a series of smaller problems and you’ll feel more accomplished and optimistic as you get through each one.
  2. Brainstorm possible solutions.
    In this step, your task is to write down as many solutions as you
    can think of, to foster a sense of possibility and give yourself some choice. Brainstorming is an open, free-for-all process of allowing every idea in the door as they come, to be sorted and refined later. Your inner critic will tend to dismiss ideas out of habit or fear; but some of these could be viable options if you gave them a chance. List without judging. Try not to rule out anything before you’ve written down every conceivable solution to your problem.
  3. Eliminate unwanted suggestions.
    Now that you have an exhaustive list of potential solutions, you can examine them more closely and cross out any that are unappealing. Eliminate options that you can’t actually imagine ever doing, have too many downsides, or seem unrealistic. If you end up crossing off every idea, then return to step 2 and brainstorm again.
  4. Select one potential solution or goal.
    Pick one solution that seems doable to you, that you can
    see yourself trying this week. Hint: a doable goal is put in brief, simple, and positive terms (what you will do, not what you won’t do or haven’t been doing), is specific and measurable, reasonable and achievable, in your control, and involves skills you already have or are learning. (For a detailed discussion of goal setting, see Chapter 8 of our book, Beyond Addiction.)
  5. Identify possible obstacles.
    Next, identify potential obstacles that could get in the way of completing your task. By anticipating problems you can plan strategies for dealing with them. This can include specific, predictable obstacles as well as a more general awareness that unforeseen challenges may arise, which can lend you some emotional resilience in dealing with them.
  6. Address each obstacle.
    Design specific strategies to cope with each obstacle. Not just, “I’m sure I can deal with it,” but exactly how you will get past it and move forward.
  7. See how things go.
    After you’ve carried out your plan, evaluate the process… How did it go? Look at what went well and what was more challenging in the implementation. Did your strategies for dealing with obstacles work well? Did obstacles come up that you hadn’t predicted? Is there anything you would do differently next time? This is how you figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Parent Collaboration

When a child struggles with substance or other behavior problems, communication often breaks down between the adults who love that child.* Most people struggle to not get defensive or lose their cool in situations they don’t understand or know how to control, and it’s not uncommon for parents to feel at wits’ end with each other when their child is doing risky, upsetting things. Disagreements are understandable. After all, misalignment can easily happen in the best of circumstances over lower-stakes issues like bedtime and vegetables; the more serious the issue, the more polarizing it can be. But helping depends in no small part on finding a way to collaborate with your co-parent (and anyone else involved in raising your child).

As you try to help your child change their relationship with substances, it will be important for every adult involved to give clear directions and consistent consequences (positive and negative). Change, even change for the better, is difficult and your child will feel ambivalent about it. It will be hard for her to make different friends, or not be high at parties, or leave earlier than other kids. The more ambivalent she is, the more important it is for you to make your expectations clear. Different expectations (explicit or implied) between you and your partner amount to mixed messages for your child.

Additionally, the more agreement you can reach with your partner, the less stressed you will each feel and the happier you will both be. And with less conflict and stress in general you can, in turn, be more positive with your child.

Alignment and collaboration with your partner doesn’t mean across-the-board, united-front agreement on “the party line,” especially with older children. Children over sixteen live in the adult world enough to know that uniform agreement is not realistic. Alignment can mean understanding what you agree on, what you don’t agree on, and what the “policy” is in any case (“Your father and I have a somewhat different feeling about this, but we’ve decided it’s important for you to be home by midnight”). You can acknowledge differences and still align your expectations.


* These issues can be more acute for parents who are separated, divorced, or otherwise living in different locations. More effort may be required on everyone’s part to overcome a history of differences, communicate effectively, and cooperate with the skills.

Reinforcement – Your Love Matters

Since you now know that “your child’s behavior makes sense” because substance use is reinforcing, we can move on to positive reinforcement as one of the core helping strategies in CRAFT. That is, you can use the same behavioral mechanisms that reinforce substance use to reinforce other behaviors instead. Basically, reward your child when she does something that you want her to do again (coming home sober, picking up her room, talking in a calm manner, being nice to her sister).

A reward can be a compliment, a hug, a favorite meal, a gift card, or—and this is often overlooked— simply acknowledging what she has done. Linked to a behavior, such “gold stars” help your child start to see the value in acting that way again. Your part is to figure out what’s rewarding to her and tolerate the discomfort you may feel in rewarding behavior you think she “should be doing anyway.”

Is Reinforcement Bribery? How will your child learn to want change herself if she is “just” doing it for the reward?

In fact, positive reinforcement, when practiced consistently, helps your child’s internal motivation. Why? Because with practice, over time, she will experience the benefits of the new behavior and it will become rewarding in and of itself. Meanwhile, your reinforcement boosts her willingness to engage in new behaviors in the first place, so that she can start experiencing the intrinsic benefits of positive change.

HOW WILL REINFORCING CHANGE ANYTHING?

The value in reinforcing positive behavior by rewarding it is that it can start to compete with the reinforcing effects of drugs and alcohol. In essence, your child can learn to “feel good” in other ways rather than using drugs/alcohol. They can feel proud of themselves, acknowledged, recognized for their efforts. All the feel good things that contribute to a healthy self-esteem and ability to cope with life.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING INSTEAD?

Contrary to what you might have heard, confrontation and punishment are not the most helpful strategies to use when you are trying to encourage change. In fact, they are likely to push things

in the exact opposite direction as your child acts to defend their position. Nor is detaching the answer, because it leaves you with no way to positively influence your child. It may also be that your child’s unhealthy behavior gets most if not all of your attention, even at times when she isn’t using—because you’re still fuming after the last time, or worried about the next. When a family is caught in a cycle of confrontation and punishment, negative attention may be the only kind the child receives.

While your negative feelings are understandable, they can prevent you from noticing the good things that also happen (when she’s sober and doing her homework, sober and having dinner with the family, and so on). It may seem to your child that she can’t do anything right (because you are upset all the time), so why bother? The key to your child making changes that stick will be your attention (which is a reward in and of itself) to the healthy, adaptive behaviors that you see. Reward your child when she is not using! In other words, “catch her being good” (as rare as that may seem sometimes!). Staying involved and rewarding steps towards healthy behavior is what will work to help motivate your child.

Take a moment to think about meaningful rewards for your child. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Rewards are in the eye of the beholder.
    A vacation in Italy might feel like winning the lottery to you, but for a child, earning a later curfew and a gift card for music might hit closer to the mark. Spend some time thinking, talking to your partner, or talking to your child about what she finds rewarding. You can also look around for what rewards she is already getting that you might want to tie to her behavior.
  • Rewards fit your child’s needs in her current life stage; these may change as she develops.
    For example, most ten-year-olds prize quality time with a parent, but at seventeen… not so much. Again: rewards are in the eye of the beholder.
  • Rewards follow closely the behavior they’re meant to reward.
    Timing helps link the reward to the behavior, so plan rewards that you can deliver immediately or shortly after (not before) the behavior takes place. Resist the temptation to give something now in the hopes that her behavior will change later.
  • Rewards are things you’re willing and able to give.
    Make sure you’re comfortable with the cost and other qualities of the rewards you choose. The new Grand Theft Auto game might be something he’d really like, but if it’s not compatible with your values and budget, you can think of something else. Some of the most effective rewards, like your attention, compliments, and affection, are free.

Practiced consistently over time, positive reinforcement will enhance your child’s motivation to change. Try to have patience and don’t give up if her behavior doesn’t change as fast as you’d like it to. Change takes time. If you’re uncertain or find yourself thinking “this doesn’t work for my child” or “he doesn’t care about anything,” review the guidelines: Is the reward rewarding to your child? How’s your timing? And bear in mind, consistent behavior change is hard for everyone, but especially for teens and young adults, who are so in flux anyway. Try to tolerate the process and remember that changing behavior patterns takes willingness to resist engaging in them long enough to learn new ones. It’s a lot of work!

The power of positive reinforcement for positive behavior – finding ways to acknowledge your child’s moves in the right direction – is made all the more effective by how you address your child’s negative behaviors. The bottom line? Let the negative consequences resulting from “negative” behavior be felt and heard. It may surprise you to learn that the direct, negative outcomes of your child’s actions (failed grades, missed social events, a cold supper)—what we call “natural consequences”—are among the most powerful promoters of change.

Many parents have a variety of strategies for the punishment of negative behaviors (grounding, time outs, withdrawing financial support, scolding) but find it difficult to let the natural consequences happen. You want to protect your child from the effects of neglecting homework or sleeping late. From a behavioral standpoint, however, when you shield your child from the uncomfortable result of his actions, he learns that there’s no downside. The net result? Why wouldn’t he continue the negative behaviors?

Of course, some consequences are too harmful to allow. Your job is to identify the negative consequences you can tolerate and let them “speak for themselves”; they will often be more convincing than anything you could say or do, and you will be relieved of the burden of arguing. The world is a powerful teacher if we let it be.

The combination of reinforcing positive behaviors and allowing the natural consequences of negative behaviors is more powerful than either strategy alone. With this “reinforcement,” your child will experience for himself the connection between positive behavior and good things happening, and start to recognize his role as the producer of good (or bad) things in his life.

WHAT IS “ENABLING?”

It’s important to understand this often misused word. It means softening or removing the negative consequences of another person’s negative behavior, which in effect encourages the continuation of that behavior. If you rush to get your kid out of bed for football practice, even though he stayed out too late the night before, he never has to face his upset coach or teammates. He never has to link his behavioral choice (staying out too late) with the natural consequence (upset coach). He only has to face your upset and stress, which are likely very common and easily tuned out.

The confusion? Many parents think enabling means doing anything nice for their child who is abusing substances. If, in your anger and disappointment at certain negative behaviors (using drugs, coming home late), you withdraw all your positive attention (even when he is sober and trying to engage in a nice conversation), you create a negative environment that is not good for anyone, you or your child. Making a difference requires understanding the difference:

Promote positive behaviors with positive outcomes.

Allow negative behaviors to have negative outcomes.

Simple, but hard to do. Keep practicing; you’ll get better at it, and so will your child.

Your Consequences – Making Them Happen

As a parent, there are times when you need and want to provide a negative consequence for unwanted behavior. At these times, clarity and consistency are the keys.Tip:Do not use your “biggest hammer” right away. The consequences should fit the behavior, and there should be room for improvement – if you kick him out of the house at the first sign of negative behavior, you won’t know whether smaller consequences (coupled with rewards for positive behavior, of course) could have influenced change.

Save the big consequences for the really big stuff, and have some smaller consequences for smaller issues. Even more important, don’t threaten any consequences unless you are willing to implement it (don’t threaten to kick them out unless you are ready to change your locks).

Clarity – Let your child know beforehand what will happen if she engages in the behavior you want her to avoid. This means being clear yourself: figuring out ahead of time realistic and meaningful consequences for the range of behaviors you want to address. (The consequence should match the severity of the behavior, and it must be possible and practical to enforce.) Communicating the plan in advance puts the choice in your child’s hands—she knows, going in, the consequences of acting one way versus another.

Consistency – Everyone involved must be willing to enact the consequence and be able to enforce it, as together you should present a united front (even if you feel somewhat differently). Discuss in advance and pick consequences you can agree to and can help each other enforce. For example, if you plan to take away driving privileges for a week if your child comes home drunk, work out who is going to drive her to school and other places she needs to go. If one of you thinks you might waver in following through, then plan how to help each other stay consistent. Communicate at every stage.

Through planning ahead you’ll be able to work around obstacles ahead of time. This will help enormously with your consistency. And consistency helps your credibility, your sense of control, and your child’s motivation.

Note: It’s better not to have any consequences or rewards at all than to promise them to your child and then not follow through. Failing to be consistent hurts your credibility as well as your ability to influence positive change for your child.

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