Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Setting Limits and Standing Firm

A toddler needs to learn quite early that he or she should not go beyond the fence or touch the hot stove. A teenager needs to have a reasonable, yet caring and protective curfew. Setting clear limits for children and teens can not only keep them save, but can help to give them boundaries for acceptable behavior.

Limits are at the foundation of parenting responsibility. They protect youth from physical and psychological harm, protect property, and promote respect for others. Limits also give children a sense of security. And usually, they like knowing an adult is in control.

It’s wise to keep the number of limits or rule to the ones that really count. It is important to set limits, but also allow children the opportunity to choose. Giving them a choice when you can, helps them develop independence, confidence and a sense of accountability for their actions.

Expecting too much can lower a child’s self-esteem and cause stress in your child. Parents should use limits consistently so children aren’t likely to get confused. Of course, as children grow older, their limits should change to reflect their developmental stage. In fact, as children grow, they often have wonderful ideas and opinions about limits. Parents can move from being caregivers to nurturers, to encouragers, then counselors. By involving them in discussions, parents are more likely to gain their children’s cooperation in following rules.

Children will try to test their limits to see how parents respond. It’s a crucial part of their development. In testing the limits, children are testing their parent’s love as well as their commitment to their word and rules. All children need the security of limitations to their behavior, while at the same time needing to grow and explore their world.

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