Parenting Improvement Project | Inconsistent Reinforcement (Week 4) by Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D.


No one ever said that parenting is easy. And frankly, if anyone has, they probably didn’t have kids. Every parent-child dynamic is different, and every kid needs different things from their parents. But there are some things common to the developmental stage of adolescence, and subsequent parental reactions, that should be very carefully navigated.


Over the next 5 weeks, I will discuss the most common parenting mistakes, and how to stop making them today.


Week 1 | Helicoptering

Week 2 | Snow Plowing

Week 3 | Invalidating


Week 4 | Inconsistent Reinforcement


Parents need to be consistent in what they reinforce, or what they praise, punish, and set boundaries on. Doing so inconsistently leads to confusion on the child’s part, and a chaotic living environment in general.


Start Today Tip: This sounds simple but it’s actually not. One of the purposes of adolescence is to learn how to identify appropriate boundaries. An adolescent, by definition, is a boundary-pushing machine. If the child doesn’t know that no is no and yes is yes, they’ll continuously push. Try to have a consistent reinforcement strategy—and understand that it may be harder than it seems.


Stay connected!



Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.

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