How to educate your children about limits?
Useful tips to apply limits in raising your son or daughter in childhood or adolescence.
The subject of limits applied to the education and upbringing of children and adolescents often gives rise to controversy. This is partly because the issue of how to educate the little ones in the house has a strong emotional charge as it touches many parents "up close": no one likes to feel questioned in such an important area of life and even of one's own identity.
However, in practice, beliefs about whether these limits are good or bad are more ideological than real. The truth is that, in practice, all parents set limits at home, establish more or less clear rules about what the child can or should do. However... how should we apply these limits when raising our children? This is the real debate.
Why is it important to find a balance when setting limits in parenting?
Many parents assume that, since the little ones of the house cannot fend for themselves and do not know what can harm them in the short and long term, they must be constantly supervised from an iron vigilance and control, in which "by default", almost any action that deviates from the conventional must be discouraged or even prohibited.
Others, on the other hand, show a predisposition totally contrary to the previous one: they assume that trying to set limits and rules creates more problems than it solves, and that the simplest and most appropriate option is to let the children learn for themselves what has positive consequences for them and what does not.
Both positions are based on misconceptions, and at bottom, they are based on a very simplistic way of looking at the upbringing and education of children in their childhood and adolescence. In reality, the existence of limits when it comes to educating the little ones is the natural thing to do considering that our role as adults implies giving protection to children and at the same time allowing them to develop through their own learning in the best possible way. An upbringing without applying these rules cancels itself out, it cannot exist.
Thus, the application of limits with our young children is a logical consequence of our role as parents. These "red lines" that must not be crossed are not so much prohibitions as references and guidelines for orientation in a very complex and ambiguous world.. Limits can be a sign that punishments exist, but they are also an opportunity to think about why certain behaviors are not desirable from the point of view of the elders of the house, and what needs to be done to mature and gain autonomy.
5 tips to educate your young children on limits.
The limits to set in the education of a boy or a girl depend both on the family context and the characteristics of the child. But beyond this, you can be guided by these recommendations and key ideas when applying them and including them in your parenting model.
1. Make sure that the rules are few and very clear.
In order for the child to be able to remember the rules well, it is important that they are relatively few and very clear, it is important that they are relatively few and simple, without many exceptions or variations.without including many exceptions or variations. That way, your memory will come to mind spontaneously when you are exposed to a situation that may lead you to behave in an inappropriate way.
But in order to do this some rules of behavior must be given priority over others.In practice, it is better that the less important ones are not considered as "limits" but rather as recommendations or ways of behaving according to our son or daughter's referent. Allowing them to be integrated into his or her behavior in an organic way and without being fixed in rules and prohibitions will make the really important rules even more valuable.
2. Make sure he or she understands the reason for the rules.
So that these limits are not simply perceived as unilateral impositions, you have to explain to your son or daughter the reason for them, their raison d'être.. This creates a space for discussion and negotiation that may even help you to keep the topic in mind and help you learn.
3. Make the rules consistent
Once the standards have been set, make sure that the criteria for determining whether or not they are met do not change. Otherwise, they will quickly be disregarded. If those rules don't exist in practice, in a few days they won't exist in theory, either. and both you and your child will forget them.
4. Put more emphasis on incentives than on punishments.
In this way, the relationship between the child and these limits will not give rise to so many conflicts, since he or she will see them as a kind of incentive rather than a punishment.He or she will see them as a kind of scaffolding to gain validation and demonstrate his or her level of maturity.
5. In case he/she does not comply and you have to punish him/her, do it soon.
Don't let too much time pass between non-compliance and punishment.. This prevents the situation from being perceived as unfair and arbitrary.
Are you looking for professional psychological assistance?
As we have seen, the search for that balance between protection and giving freedom to minor children is a complex and easily complicated task. Fortunately, many psychologists offer child and adolescent therapy and parenting support services to help parents overcome these kinds of difficulties.
If you are interested in having professional support regarding the upbringing and education of your children, please contact me; I offer face-to-face sessions in my office in Seville and online by video call.