Advice: Children learn from understanding limits


One of the most important things you can do for your child is to set limits, which will teach children self-discipline, self-control and life management skills.

Young children have limited experiences and don’t understand that their actions have consequences, such as eating an entire bag of cookies before moving on to another bag or biting a sibling when they are upset.

This is not about punishing your child but more about teaching responsibility.

We cannot have rules for everything, so limits serve as guidelines.

Limits help children learn that they can’t hit others or can’t take a toy from another child without asking.

Parents sometimes feel guilty about saying “No,” or worry their child will throw a tantrum in public.

As uncomfortable as it may be, setting limits shows you care.

Children who are raised in homes where rules are unclear often suffer from anxiety. Children need their parents to be in charge, which provides a sense of a controlled environment. If not, how will they learn what is right and wrong.

Setting limits is about being firm and consistent with the limit you set. You also need to follow through with a consequence in order for your child to learn that his or her behavior is not acceptable.

Limits keep children safe and teach them how to handle uncomfortable feelings. Children need to learn that they cannot do as they please, and they need to know how to handle hearing the word “No.”

The most important thing to do when setting a limit is to intervene immediately, explain why the behavior is inappropriate and set consequences. You have to remind yourself that a bad behavior is learned, so good behavioral habits take practice.

A parent’s goal should be to help their children be responsible and learn how to impose limits on themselves.

Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily and on Instagram @mlsalcines. You can also contact her on her blog,