Kids test their parent’s patience and temper as part of a natural learning process, but they can inadvertently test your sanity while they’re at it. The key is to respond consistently, but that’s easier said than done. According to parenting coach Dr. Erica Reischer, there are 3 reasons parents become inconsistent in these situations. First, you’re not paying attention so you don’t realize you’re responding differently than the last time; second, you don’t want to enforce whatever consequences you meant to establish; third, you actually can’t enforce the consequences (due to timing or context). Inconsistency is a signal to your kid that maybe the next time they fling the tater tot across the kitchen, your reaction will be different. If you always react the same way, they’ll learn to act differently.