Chapter  15:  Three  C’s:  Consistency,  Criticism,  Confidence                                                     423



Throughout The Parent’s Toolshop, we have learned about children’s behavior and effective techniques for improving our relationships with our children. I hope this training has helped you grow as a person and as a parent. By now, after learning so many effective tools, you are probably feeling more confident as a parent. Some people feel discouraged because they realize they are still making mistakes or aren’t improving fast enough. “After all I put into this,” you may think, “I deserve fewer problems with my children!” Here are some suggestions for maintaining your confidence.

  • Have realistic expectations. In times of stress, when you’re discouraged, or when you are tempted to be hard on yourself for a mistake, look at how far you’ve come. Learn from your mistakes, make a commitment to your future, and move on.

A Personal Story. The Keep-Your-Cool tools have always been the hardest for me to practice consistently. Once, after I had been doing so well, I was under a lot of stress and getting increasingly irritable. Finally, I blew my stack and yelled. I felt bad and started to put myself down. Then I stopped myself. I realized I lasted a lot longer this time, before finally yelling. What I yelled was different. I was yelling “I” messages, instead of blaming and criticizing. “At least my words were more respectful,” I thought, “even though I yelled them.” I calmed down, got my brain back on track and apologized to the kids. We worked out a solution to the problem. It’s taken years for me to improve my anger management to a level I feel good about, but I still have to keep working at it. At least I can give myself credit for the positive changes I have made.

  • Set realistic goals. Do not expect the beds to be made perfectly, the dishes to be spotless, or things to run smoothly all the time. Children may choose new behaviors to test you. You are dealing with human beings who are constantly learning (including yourself), and they will make mistakes. Most of all, if many of the tools in this book were new to you, don’t expect to master them all at once.
  • Believe in yourself and your children. Children can change and so can you. When you believe in the value of a tool, you’ll try it. When you use it long enough, you’ll see results. Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. Make a commitment to the future. With time and practice, you will see results and improvement.
  • Take it one step at a time. Don’t expect perfection out of yourself or your children. If your expectations are too high, you and your children will feel more discouraged. If you take small steps, you will move forward and you’ll all feel more confident.
  • Take your intuition. When logic fails you, get in touch with your heart. Intuition is often confused with emotions. Emotions cause us to react with blame and judgement, but intuitive ideas result in inner peace and responses that leave us feeling better about ourselves.
  • Stop worrying and feeling guilty.  Unproductive guilt causes us to focus on the past–an action that no amount of reliving can change. If we condemn ourselves for being less perfect in the past, we become unproductive and unable to take action in the present. 


424                                                                                                                 The  Parent’s  Toolshop


  • Educate yourself. Periodically read this book again, taking one toolset or toolbox at a time and working with it at a slower pace. Read complementary books, such as those I’ve mentioned throughout the book. Attend seminars and support groups that teach healthy, effective parenting skills. As you learn and practice the skills, you will be more consistent and feel more confident. (These don’t however, replace the need for counseling for severe behavior problems, troubled relationships, or issues from your childhood you have become aware of. Even healthy individuals may need therapy at a challenging time. It can be a valuable part of the healing process.)
  • Surround yourself with supportive people who think like you do about parenting. Select people or resources whose opinions and values you respect when seeking advice or information. Join a support group if you are dealing with a special issue like separation, divorce, death, special-needs children, teens, or young children.
  • Balance fun, work, and rest. Enjoy yourself and your children. Treat yourself with respect and don’t allow others to treat you disrespectfully.
  • Have the courage to be imperfect and grant this right to your children. Say to yourself, “What can I learn from this mistake?” Sometimes we have to learn the same lesson repeatedly (this applies to us and our children).
  • Be optimistic. Instead of assuming children want to be difficult, assume they want positive results and are simply confused about how to achieve them. Try to see the positive in everything. Get into the children’s world and understand things from their perspective.
  • Encourage yourself. Consciously choose how you interpret events and find constructive ways of looking at situations. Have a sense of humor and keep things in perspective. Focus on your strengths and realize that it’s not necessary to compare yourself to others. Use affirmations and positive self-talk. Here are two final exercises to keep your confidence soaring.

Practice  Exercise

  1. List 10 things you do well, positive qualities you have (as a person and/or parent), goals you have, or accomplishments you’ve reached.
  2. Write affirmations for yourself. The rules are to make them positive statements that use words like “I can” or “I will.” Periodically read them out loud, especially when you are feeling discouraged. Here are some affirmations to start with, but feel free to add or substitute more.


        I have many personal strengths. I strive to be the best parent—and person—I can be.
        My sense of personal worth and identity goes beyond my role as a parent. I will look at all my positive qualities to feel good about myself.
        I respect myself and am worthy of respect from others.
        I like being a parent and find ways to enjoy my children every day.
        I am honest with myself about areas I want to improve. I am willing to learn from my mistakes.
        I see my children’s positive qualities and show them how much I appreciate them.
        I am willing to let go of caring about what other people think I should do and make decisions based on what’s best for my family.
        I am ready to let go of controlling others and will focus, instead, on controlling myself.
        I am more interested in improving my relationships than I am in being a perfect parent or having perfect children.
        When my children misbehave or things don’t turn out the way I’d like, I can change my approach if I need to and accept the things and people I can’t change.


Chapter  15:  Three  C’s:  Consistency,  Criticism,  Confidence                                                        425


      I want to find ways to improve my relationship with my children and respond so they want to cooperate more.


You are probably more aware of how you parent, your strengths, and areas you want to improve. You have a conscious plan, supported by new tools, to respond helpfully and effectively to just about any issue that arises in any relationship. When you make mistakes, you may no longer berate yourself, having developed the courage to be imperfect. You can look at the choices you made, learn from them, and choose to handle things differently next time, using the many techniques you’ve learned.

As you practice what you’ve learned, your children’s behavior will improve, and you will strengthen all your relationships. When this happens, you won’t have to put as much thought and emotional control into what you do—your new style will be second nature to you.

Completing this book is a priceless gift from you to your children. Not only will you be a better (but imperfect) parent, but you will be teaching and modeling valuable life skills to your children and others. These skills are like a precious heirloom you can pass from one generation to the next. All it takes is one person to break a negative cycle. That one person is you.

I hope, as you reflect back on the day you first started your tour of The Parent’s Toolshop, you realize how much you’ve grown. The poem that follows the Three C’s Summary Sheet is one we read at the end of the parenting class, because it illustrates the growth process we all go through.

Keep up your hard work. You and your children are worth your investment of time and energy.


426                                                                                                                 The  Parent’s  Toolshop





Maintaining  CONSISTENCY ☆☆☆☆

    • True consistency is staying on the same path or getting back on it when we stray.
    • It’s important to follow the same parenting plan away from home that we use at home.
    • Support your partner with your skills
    • Live the skills, don’t preach about them.
    • Only give advice in a way that makes other people feel supported and better about themselves.


Responding  to  CRITICISM  and  Unhelpful  Advice

    • Screen other parenting resources for advice that is accurate, consistent with your philosophy, and compatible with your long-term goals. Ignore any advice that gets in the way of these goals or reduces communication and mutual respect in your family.
    • Adult behavior can be unintentional or intentional, just like children’s. Use the Universal Blueprint to respond to problems in all your relationships.
    • Seek the value in criticism, instead of reacting to the way someone said it.
    • If you have consistently tried to use effective communication skills to respond to toxic people, it may be time to set limits.


Maintaining  Your  CONFIDENCE

    • Look at how far you’ve come. Educate yourself. Surround yourself with supportive people. Encourage yourself.

Permission for reader to reprint this page for personal use only granted by author, Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, The Parent’s Toolshop, © 2000.


Chapter  15:  Three  C’s:  Consistency,  Criticism,  Confidence                                                        427



Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson


I walk down the street. there is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.

I am lost . . . I am helpless. It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault. 

I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.


I walk down a different street.



© 1993 Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. 1-800-284-9673.