Setting limits

I’ve always hated that term. Makes me think of authoritarian parenting styles. But the truth is, I do believe that children need limits. They need some boundaries to help them better define their world. A good analogy would be my thing with crayons. When I have a clearly limited selection of crayons, I can be creative. But at a certain point when there are simply too many colours to choose from, I become paralyzed. I don’t know where to start. So I never liked those mega-packs of crayons where there were a dozen different shades of green, because I froze wondering which green to choose and what all the shades of green could possibly be used for. Similarly, I think as children discover the world around them, perhaps it’s less overwhelming if they have clear boundaries. Of course, too few crayons are stifling as well, so it’s all about finding a balance.

I have always set limits with DD, though admittedly there are few of them. The few rules we have had were enforced consistently and usually without any hassle. But lately I’ll admit that DD is becoming more intense in her reaction to things that don’t go the way she’d like them to. My mother spent the day with us yesterday, and she made some comments at the end of the day that I took to be criticism from someone who couldn’t possibly understand where I’m coming from, given our differing philosophies on childrearing. But when I sat back and thought about what limits we do have, and how often a limit is encountered and enforced well…they’ve dwindled down to a very small few. It seems that out of convenience, not wanting to deal with a battle, etc…I’m saying “no” very few times these days. And when I do say no, the reaction is alot more intense than it used to be.

So, I’m going to set a few more limits, lay them out clearly for DD, and try to coach her through the initial difficulty with the hopes that she’ll get better at accepting them. My goals for doing this are first and foremost to better stick to my own ideals. I never wanted my kids to watch several hours of TV a day, and yet somehow that happens on more days than I’d like. I wanted us to sit down together as a family for dinner, and yet somehow DD ends up playing Nintendo while the rest of us are eating. I never wanted my kid to get a treat every single time we go to the store, but somehow it has become an expectation. So I guess my hope in all of this is that I’ll get better at sticking to my own ideals, and DD will get more practice dealing with things that don’t go the way she’d like them to. Then maybe it won’t be so hard on her when she has to accept “no”.

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One thought on “Setting limits

  1. Space Mom

    You can set limits without it being a power struggle or a punishment.We have a rule at stores that you can carry something around, but we rarely buy it. Just a rule I set up a long time ago. Now if I buy something it is a treat and it is rare. We have explained that we have to trade money to buy things and we aren’t going to just buy anything.We also have the rule that you eat together with the family. This one is important for us, and we have taught both girls to ask to be excused when they are done. We work more on “this is polite” rather than “Because I said so”. I think how you approach setting limits and the logic behind it is more important than setting them in the first place.Good luck and email me if you want more info on how we’ve set up limits

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