EPIC Blog: Setting Limits - 4KIDS
$30 $100 $250 Other

EPIC Blog: Setting Limits

August 14th, 2020 l Author: Mariana Caro, LCSW

As caregivers, it is our job to set limits in order to keep kids safe. Oftentimes, the way we set these limits, however, can lead to meltdowns and tension in our relationship with our kids. Instead of simply saying “no” to their requests, which can feel dismissive and sometimes even aggressive, try following Dr. Garry Landreth’s breakdown for limit setting:

1. First we want to connect – validate and name the feeling that they are expressing. This helps calm their brain and body as they feel seen and heard by you
2. Then we set the limit in a non-judgmental way, which communicates the rule clearly
3. Lastly, we give options. This helps kids feel empowered to use their words to get their needs met.

Here are a couple of example limit setting responses you can give your children:

“You really want that toy. These toys are not for stealing. When we get home you can play with a toy from your special box or you and I can play a game together outside.”

“It’s really fun to jump on the bed, but furniture is not for climbing on. You can jump on the floor with me or you can go outside and jump on the trampoline.”

“You’re angry that your brother took your food. People are not for hurting. When you’re angry you can scream into a pillow or go for a run outside.”

Keep in mind that you always want to try to stick to giving your kids two positive choices. Whenever possible, you also want to make one of those choices a relational option that you can do together.

If your child is having a hard time accepting the choices, try a compromise. It might feel like you’re giving in and giving up control, but you’re actually teaching them a valuable lesson in negotiating needs within the context of relationship. Compromises teach them that relationships are not just one-sided, and that in asking them to give up what they want, you are willing to be uncomfortable too and sacrifice for the sake of your relationship.

Following these steps takes practice. Remembering two choices in the heat of the moment can be hard, so I challenge you to take 5 minutes a day to practice setting limits and giving choices for things you know your child most consistently struggles with. The more you practice it, the easier it will become!