Setting Limits with Young Children

Sometimes your child’s misbehavior may have more to do with how she is feeling physically, rather than how she’s feeling emotionally.

At one time the word ‘discipline’ had negative connotations. Today though, most experts see discipline not as a form of punishment and control, but as a means of setting limits and guidelines for our children.

The goal in limit setting is to help our youngsters grow into independent, well balanced adults. Parenting instructor Diane Banks feels that setting limits and boundaries help children cope with an often chaotic and confusing world. “I think limits make kids feel safe and secure and that someone is looking after them. While the child’s job is to test the limits and to try to break them, the limits still need to be set. The overall philosophy of parenting is that we will raise children to be responsible for their own behavior.”

When young children behave inappropriately, rather than punishing them, it’s a good idea to look at why they’re behaving in a certain way in the first place. You may discover that your child just isn’t feeling one hundred percent explains Banks. “Ask yourself a few questions. Is your child sick today? Are they tired? Are they hungry? Are they bored? Is there too much activity going on?”

Banks says a common scenario is to find a tired, hungry toddler or preschooler acting up in a supermarket. While the parent’s reaction may be to scold the child, they may be wise to instead find their child a nutritious snack. Banks explains that “children’s behavior deteriorates when they’re hungry. In this case they don’t need a fancy management technique. They just need to be fed.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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