How to Set Healthy Limits for Children
When it comes to how to set limits for children, it’s important to understand that your kids aren’t going to like it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put boundaries in place. As long as you are firm but compassionate, you can give your child a sense of control while reinforcing the rules at the same time.
Avoid power struggles
Setting limits for children can be very helpful for both parents and children. They provide a feeling of security, as well as teach socially acceptable behavior. However, power struggles can also occur. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can avoid them.
Power struggles with children often occur when a child feels as if they don’t have enough power in their lives. This can happen when they are experimenting with independence, or when they are testing their boundaries.
It’s important to stay calm during these conflicts. You can keep your temper down by using a calm, kind voice. Avoid arguing with your child, or you may just make him more resistant.
You can also help prevent and stop power struggles by offering your child choices. Giving them the choice allows them to feel in control of their lives. In addition, it increases their compliance.
The best way to set limits is to set a clear, logical consequence. Make sure that your children understand the nature of the consequences.
Also, avoid making threats. If you do make a threat, make it a reasonable one and follow through. For example, you might threaten a trip to Grandma’s house, but if they don’t perform as expected, you can back out of the bargain.
Parents should also try to be consistent in their instructions. For example, you might decide that hitting is not appropriate. Rather than repeating your instructions, you might use a short, quiet tone of voice.
Lastly, you can encourage your child to think about the reasons for the limit. This helps them understand why the rule is important.
As a parent, you need to be able to recognize when you are entering a power struggle. You will be better prepared if you know what the root cause of the problem is.
Stay in your “downstairs” brain
If you are worried that your child’s behavior is out of control, you should be aware that you can help her develop the skills needed to cope with big emotions. Self-regulation is the ability to keep calm in a stressful situation, and it allows children to succeed in school and with friends. However, dysregulated children need a little more assistance.
As a parent, you have a duty to guide your child through sensory experiences and provide opportunities for them to learn. Often, these opportunities are triggered by misbehavior. These moments can be a time to teach and grow your child, but they can also be a chance to reinforce a habit or create a meaningful activity.
You can use creative techniques to help your child develop self-regulation. Providing your child with age-appropriate expectations can make them feel successful, and it can help them to feel good about themselves. Using words to describe emotions and feelings can also calm your child’s downstairs brain.
For example, you can give your child a “mission” to follow. This doesn’t mean distracting or bribing them, but it does mean offering them choices. When a young child is agitated, they have no language. So you can explain the mission as a way to help them learn about feelings.
In addition, you should stay calm, reassure your child, and model self-regulation. Your goal should be to calm your child and not to convince him that you are right. Rewarding your child’s dysregulated behavior won’t do much to change it.
Finally, you must know that there is a difference between tantrums and meltdowns. Tantrums are a short-term response to an emotional threat. Meltdowns can last for a long time.
Don’t explain the reason more than once
When setting limits for children it pays to be specific. It is also not a bad idea to take the time to explain what you expect in your kids. Similarly, it pays to make the rules measurable and attainable. For example, if you are going to ask your child to eat a healthy dinner, make sure it is achievable.
The best way to accomplish this is to establish limits that can be followed by your children. This will help avoid power struggles. As your child grows and matures you will need to adjust these limits to suit the needs of your children. However, you must not set yourself up for failure.
In short, the most effective limits are those that are enforceable and allow your children to have fun while doing it. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but with practice it is possible to teach your children to behave while ensuring that they remain happy and healthy in the process. By setting a few limits in a variety of situations, you will be well on your way to having a happy, healthy family.
While you are at it, make sure to pick up on the nuances of your child’s temperament. For example, if your kid is constantly whining, it may be worth your while to try and understand why. Likewise, if your child is always asking to play with the iPad, you may want to set up a schedule that is conducive to quality screen time.
Having a firm grip on the details will make the whole thing a lot less fraught with friction. Finally, while you are at it, make sure to do the other things in life – like catching up with your spouse or catching up with your friends.
Provide an emotional “holding environment” while reinforcing the limit
Most parents are far too busy to check out the latest and greatest at the mall and on the subway. One way to get your fill of yums is to enlist the help of the kids. With the aforementioned feats of honour in tow, you can be sure your child will have a blast with the best of the lot, and you can enjoy some adult me time, too! The most difficult part is making sure you actually do it. Fortunately, a little time, effort and a hefty dose of gratitude will do the trick. You might even be pleasantly surprised at the results! As it turns out, you could have a whole new slew of friends to squeal about in the process. After all, that is the name of the game.