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I put limits on my children, but they don't work: how to establish effective limits from respect

The establishment of limits in parenting is essential for our children to develop as good people, capable of acting in society and living with other people.

Thus, setting limits is necessary for their development, learning and independence. But sometimes this is not as simple a job as we would like, and there are cases where no matter how many limits we set, they seem not to work.

Do you set limits on your child but they don’t seem to work? That could be happening? We talk about the most frequent causes.

“When we are not able to set limits and demand responsibilities, we feel used and mistreated.”

-Brene de Brown-

When limits don’t work for us: how to establish effective limits from respect

There are some factors that influence when setting limits, and that these can be understood and respected by children. It is important that when you set limits you take into consideration the following points:

be clear

One of the most common mistakes in setting limits that causes our children not to follow them is not being clear about them . It is important to explain to children using language that fits their timeline and that they can really understand.

You don’t need to give long explanations of why things should be done in a certain way; in fact, if you give a long talk about it you will only make your child’s mind wander and not pay attention. Try instead to use short and clear sentences about what you expect from them.

Thus, when we talk about being clear, we are not referring to saying “behave well” or “pay attention”, but to clearly and concisely tell them the rule together with a brief explanation. For example, saying that sweets are limited at home because they are bad for your health, or that you should go to bed at eight because you need to be rested the next day.

Be firm and consistent

When setting limits, it is essential that as parents we are consistent with what we expect, and more importantly, that we are firm in maintaining them.

We cannot put a limit on them, such as: not watching television after 8pm and letting them last until 9pm one day and the next day pretend to return to the previous schedule . This can be a bit difficult, but it is a challenge that we must overcome: be stable, firm and consistent at all times.

If we want children to respect limits, we must be firm and consistent with them; we cannot establish a limit, and that the next day it changes.

Boost your emotional self-control

To establish standards we must be clear about what we want to achieve and maintain a firm position on this. Surely your son at some point will argue with you or will not want to pay attention to the limits imposed, but you must be careful there of exalting yourself.

We know that being a parent can be tiring and frustrating at times, but always remember that you are the adult in the situation , do not get involved in a fight in which anger is what moves you or even fear. Take a deep breath and continue always firm.

When setting rules or limits, it is important to be clear about what we want to achieve with it, in order to pass it on to our children.

Avoid exposing him to tempting situations

Another frequent mistake when setting limits refers to the fact of not controlling (or minimizing) the children’s exposure to what we want to avoid. For example, if I don’t like my children to eat a lot of sweets and as a limit at home we establish that it is one sweet per day per person, the worst thing I can do is leave them on the table.

This situation occurs with great frequency when children are younger. The idea is to reduce contact with what we want to avoid.

Another example: if we don’t want them to watch TV late, don’t leave a TV in their room. It’s about, in a certain way, “making things easy for them” .

set consequences

When we set limits with our children, it is important to also explain to them the consequences of not respecting them (note, we are not referring to punishments, but to what happens and what does not happen if the limits are not met; for example, if you do not finish your homework on time). set time, you won’t have time to play afterwards because we have to eat dinner).

Of course, it is very important to make children understand the consequences of their actions from respect, love and with patience, without imposing anything; they need to understand to learn and feel respected to mature.

Children need to understand in order to learn and feel respected in order to mature and develop good self-esteem.

Avoid labeling your child: talk about his behavior, not about him

Many times when there are limits that are broken, parents do not tend to describe the behavior that the child has had and that has been inappropriate, but end up blaming the child, directly disapproving him as a person , for what he is and not for what. made. That is, they label the child based on a single behavior.

To understand it better, let’s take an example: tell a child who drops things because he hasn’t been careful, that “it’s a disaster”; that is labeling the child and not his behavior (instead we can say; “this time you have not been careful, -and it does not mean that you are a disaster-; I am sure that the next time you will be more”).

Thus, if we do as in the example, we will be labeling our son, something that can be very damaging to his self-esteem, and that also only reinforces his negative idea of himself, so he will not have the slightest interest in following the rules. .

what can we do as parents?

Listen to your child, let him express himself regarding what he thinks and feels about limits. In some cases you can even present some alternatives ; this will give you the opportunity to choose and you will feel more involved in establishing the limits instead of living them as a simple imposition.

On the other hand, always explain to them in a simple way the reasons why there are limits. Be consistent and firm at all times (while maintaining some flexibility, yes), and don’t forget to always accentuate his positive behaviors, praise him when he does a great job, and always remind him how much you love him .

“Let’s say what we have to say. We can say it gently, but firmly, speaking from the heart. We don’t need to be judgmental or tactless, blame or cruel when we speak our truths.”

-Melody Beattie-

Photos | Cover (Pexels)

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