7 Tips for Setting Limits
- Rules have meaning and relevance. Discuss the rationale behind the rules. When at all possible, rules should have “natural” consequences. For example, if curfew is not adhered to one night, then perhaps going out the following night is forfeited.
- The child has the opportunity to contribute. It is best to come up with consequences together when at all possible. Family meetings are great for this. Surprisingly, kids sometimes come up with more strict consequences than the parent may have!
- Consequences are known in advance. Have a plan. This helps to avoid spur of the moment “punishments” that are often made in anger and not relevant to the behaviour.
- Provide positive alternatives and actions.
- Consistently apply them. If rules are inconsistent, children will learn how to “beat” the system..
- Provide guidance and support.
- Adapt rules and consequences as children mature. Limits and rules change as children become older and have increased capability of understanding and moderating their actions.
It is of course essential that children have limits and family rules to adhere to and they can be a big source of disagreement! Having a plan in place and practicing these steps sets up expectations for all parties and hopefully will help ease the duration and intensity of disagreements. We know it’s not easy!