Setting Limits

Whilst this strategy might look at first glance as though it can only be used to effectively discipline children, it is in fact useful for setting expectations about behaviour in our children. It is a positive tool for promoting good behaviour, rather than one which teaches consequences. Its basic premise is one which always seeks to acknowledge children’s emotions as valid, whilst encouraging consideration of more appropriate behaviour and strategies across all manner of given situations.

When setting limits on what we encourage our children to do, it is important to use phrases, which prompt cooperation. Children are more cooperative when we state limits as matter of fact, short statements, rather than long explanations. It is better to use statements such as “there are no sweets on a school night”, rather than “you know you are not allowed sweets on a school night, you can only have them at the weekend, so you shouldn’t be asking”.

Setting Limits

When dealing with a situation in which your child tests these limits the following approach can be very effective:

1. Acknowledge your child’s wishes by paraphrasing their request “you wish you could stay up late tonight

2. Communicate the agreed house limits “bedtime is 7pm.

3. Identify when their wish might be at least be partially granted “you can stay up until 8pm on Saturday”

4. Acknowledge your child’s feeling and help move them on “I bet when you grow up you’ll stay up late all the time”, as you walk them slowly towards their bedroom

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