Limits are the “rules of the game” of education. They allow us to teach behaviors, protect and transmit values. How do you set limits for children?
It is not an easy task to have them respected by the youngest, and there is no one way to do it (let alone, “the best way”). However, there are some ideas that can help us so that the boundaries we set contain some teaching and are fair and proportionate.
How to set limits for children?
How to set limits for children? Is there a “better” way to do it? Below we’ll share 8 basic ideas that can get you started.
Start with simple limits
Children generally do not react badly to limits. They sometimes need time to adjust to it, but if we communicate them correctly and they understand them, there is no reason for them to override them (unless we are with difficult-tempered children, very naughty, with behavioral disorders, etc.).
A key first idea that can work for setting limits is: start with simple limits and increase the requirement based on what the maturity of the child allows.
Set clear limits
Another key idea about setting limits for children is that they should always be clear. In addition, it will be important to tell the child what the limit is and why he should not exceed it.
We will have to adapt this explanation according to their evolution and their age. In the end, the most important thing will be that the child knows what he cannot do and why.
It will also be important to encourage the child to think about why he should not adopt certain behaviors. He should think about his behavior and its consequences.
We can promote reflection in several ways. Through games, examples, be their model… The idea is that he not only knows what he cannot do, but also that he understands why (this will help him to memorize these limits).
It will also be important for him to be able to reflect on his behavior if he has exceeded the limits (if he has “behaved badly”).
Be firm and consistent
If we are setting limits for children we need to be firm and consistent. That is, they must be coherent, logical and meaningful boundaries.
For example: “you cannot lean on the balcony because you might fall”. There is a clear limit here, compatible with the possible consequence of going beyond it.
We must also be firm: if we explain to children that going beyond a certain limit will have such a consequence, we must keep our word (otherwise, the risk is that they will not take us seriously).
Another key idea about how to set limits for children is to come up with alternatives when it comes to taking action. For example, say, “You can’t do x, but you can do y”. Here we promote appropriate and positive behavior , which “replaces” inappropriate or inappropriate behavior.
Keep in mind that children need choices. Especially when we “forbid” something or limit their behavior. It is also an apprenticeship.
Over-correction is a behavior modification technique that involves asking the child who behaved inappropriately to restore the initial situation. Or to “repair” the consequences of his action.
For example, if he painted the sofa and knew he shouldn’t, an over-correction would be to have it cleaned. This is a useful boundary-setting technique that teaches a child that certain actions have certain consequences.
It is also a much more beneficial technique than others like punishment, because the child learns something positive here. He is not punished or scolded “for nothing else”.
Set fair and proportionate limits
The limits you set for children should be fair and proportionate. They may generate rejection in children or confusion s i they are not.
Moreover, understanding logic within this limit allows them to memorize it more easily and, in general, to respect it.
Take their age into account
Another key idea that you should keep in mind about how to set limits for children is to consider their age. So, ideally, boundaries should be boundaries that: 1. they can understand and 2. respect their evolutionary moment.
Is it difficult for you to set limits? What helps you establish them? It is clear that each family will choose how to educate their children, but it is also true that limits benefit young and old.
They provide them with a guide, a compass that tells them where to go and where not to go.