Making Rules And Setting Limits: Doing It The Child’s Way!

Patience and self-control are hard to come by in parents, no matter what our child’s age. We take a short trip to the mall that ends in a struggle to drag our toddler home. It’s annoying to hear spoons banging on the table in the morning. The meal is labelled tasteless. The toys and books are scattered all over. Elder ones stay out past curfew every day! Subsequently, they accuse us of being short-tempered and harsh.

No wonder why we try enforcing the limit with a consequence, like bribes, berating, threat, and punishments to get things done, but does it work? Not always. That’s why setting limits for children, is important.

Limits: How we see them vs. What they are?

It isn’t:

· Imposing rules or creating goals.

· Pushing children to follow them.

· Criticising them for the lack of self-discipline.

· Chastising them for not being good enough.

· Comparing them to other ‘well-behaved’ kids.

· Offering rewards for good behaviour.

· Giving punishments for outbursts and negative behaviour.

It is:

· Helping them notice different patterns in the world.

· Choosing warmth and affection over words and harsh gestures when delivering lessons.

· Encouraging them to think how limits can be helpful, in different situations.

· Defining, adding substance and giving shape to their silly dreams.

· Patiently waiting for them to calm down and listen to your reasons.

Setting clear and effective limits at an early age supports the emotional development of your child.

Being brought up the traditional way has made us either loathe or patronize the idea of enforcing limits on our children. Both the ways mostly take us to the extremes. Probably because we feel love is a better solution to belligerent behaviour than punishments and restrictions or that discipline is critical for future success. Nonetheless, many times, we (the generation nurturing them) are unable to fathom the thin line between unconditional love and pampering. Similarly, we also get lost in the maze of setting limits vs. enforcement of rules created by us.

A path that would lead children to acknowledge, understand and limit themselves, to be self-disciplined in the future would be better for both the children and the caregivers.

Encouraging Kids To Create Boundaries For Themselves…

· Allow them time to assimilate and reflect, to mould behavioural patterns that can be harmful to children

“If someone pulled your hair like the way you do to Tommy, would you have liked it? Tommy also may not like it and hurt you back.”

· Introduce them to positive values through relatable examples.

“What if your cousin refuses to share her toys with you? Wouldn’t you be upset? Let’s not upset others too. We can share our toys to show them we care, isn’t it?”

· Deliver expectations in a way they understand.

“I know it will be hard to study when your friends are partying outside,but it is important. So, decide when do you want to finish your studies — before the party or after the party?”

· Give them the liberty to decide for themselves.

“I will stay back for a minute if you want. Do you want to turn off the lights while I’m here, or after I leave?”

· Inspire them to respect people and assets.

“I understand you are angry and you want to be alone. Take your time. I’m waiting.”

It is important to give children the due respect to inspire respect in them for people and assets.

· Let them cool off with your love, patience, and some distractions.

“This little Popeye doesn’t want to eat spinach, but he needs it to grow. Come on. Let’s finish it up fast, and we can visit the park.”

· Help them grow beyond materialistic rewards and instil inward motivation.

“Thank you for helping momma clean your room. I will return your help whenever you need mine.”

· Turn the oppositional child into one who can judiciously decide where to oppose.

“Let us make a deal. Let us count how many times we say No to each other. You and I can say only 3 Nos in a day and after that, we have to listen to each other. Do you agree?”

How To Make Little Ones Happily Follow The Rules?

· Provide positive feedback for positive behaviour.

· Offer reminders without nagging because every change takes time.

· Keep a ‘checklist’ or ‘appreciation chart’ to praise kids when they observe and maintain limits.

· Revoke privileges for some time if they’re misusing or neglecting commands, but restore them, once they follow.However, at no point in time, the child should feel lonely or disowned. They should know that you are around for them.

In the end, it all depends on how we set limits and guidelines for our child’s behaviour.

Giving preschoolers clear directions and providing reasons without becoming defensive gives them a basic understanding of what they’re expected to do in different situations.

Disciplining children in a calm and composed manner, as soon as their actions go off track, instils good qualities in children. Eventually, they learn to respect their boundaries and turn out to be responsible, disciplined and self-controlled individuals.