Setting limits with our kids is something that is so important but hard to do. We can set too many limits so that every time they can be seen as doing some thing wrong. We can set too few limits where Our children can persuade us to bend the rules (particularly in the area of sweets – or food generally or technology).
When we think about limits it has to be for those things that we really value in our home and for our children. That will be different for every family. If our limits are clear to our children but they are set with kindness they will still be unhappy if they have to follow it and they don’t want to, but we see this as an opportunity for them to express their feelings. The limit may lead to tears and tantrums but that is ok. We remain with them to know that they are still loved but they still cannot do xyz.
If we don’t have too many limits then we are more able to apply the ones we have and be prepared for their unhappiness. We can then deal with it positively. If there are constant limits this is a greater challenge for you and your child. Sometimes we have to review our limits.
I have recently given up on expecting my children to sit down for a whole meal at home. This is partly because they spend a lot of time with us in the living room. They sit and will engage in conversation frequently but when you put a meal at the table it is like they have ants in their pants! They can sit well for a meal when we are out so I have decided that I can live without this at home. The meal is still set out on the table and there is still the expectation that they will sit down but if they don’t I don’t get upset about it anymore (they are in the same room just not sat on their chair -they could be standing!).
This change to my limits has meant that we now don’t have daily conflict about them sitting down at the table and has allowed us to engage in other conversations at meal times.
Limits can change and children can be flexible and adaptable to different situations. E.g. later nights in the holidays! Sometimes we need to look at how we can also be flexible to then give us the strength and patience for those absolute limits we need to set (no you can’t have sweets for breakfast, dinner and tea! 😆).