Positive Parenting: Setting Limits for Your Child
Let's talk about Yellow Light Behaviors—the annoying things your toddler does, like whining, begging, pouting and interrupting—that can that BUG THE HECK out of you, especially if you’re tired or stressed. But when you master a few positive parenting techniques, you’ll be thrilled to see how quickly you and your tot can turn conflicts back into cooperation!
The Positive Parenting Approach
It's not easy to keep your cool. Your child’s annoying and defiant behavior may even call up bad memories from your own childhood, causing your temper to flare and making you overreact. But when you connect with respect (using the Fast Food Rule and Toddler-ese), look for Win-Win Compromises (instead of getting locked into stubborn won’t-wont struggles), and enforce mild consequences like the clap-growl and kind ignore techniques discussed in The Happiest Toddler on the Block, your toddler will begin to cooperate. The key to having a happy home is to set clear and consistent limits. Limits teach toddlers the difference between right and wrong, safety and danger and so on.
Setting clear limits is super important. We all want to raise our children with humility and kindness, but we also need show courage and resolve. Start each day with love, but when your child pushes, limits that are important so you…don’t cave in. When push comes to shove (and shove to bite!) you must caringly, respectfully use your power to keep order.
How to Set Limits Effectively
Be reasonable: Tots have limited impulse control, so remove dangers and temptations (like fragile items) and make your home fit your child, rather than vice versa.
Keep it simple: Don’t use long sentences to set limits. (“It’s time to put away your crayons. I don’t want to have to ask you again. Please don’t make me nag.”) Simple statements work best. (“Crayons stay in the den.”)
Be consistent: Consistency helps kids learn right and wrong. Of course, no one is 100% consistent all of the time. On occasion, you can choose to bend the rules. But when you do, make it really clear that you’re making an exception (“Our rule is we only eat in the kitchen, BUT since today is Daddy’s birthday, we do something special and have a picnic in the living room.”)
Avoid mixed messages: Your tone of voice and the look on your face HAVE TO send the same message as your words. Want your child to know you mean business? Crouch down (just a bit above her eye level) and speak with a deeper voice and more stern, serious face.
Smart parents also know how to pick their battles. Some limits are impossible to enforce. For example, it may be impossible to make your tot eat broccoli, poop on the potty, or overcome fears.
So when you see you’re getting into a struggle that you can’t win, switch from giving warnings to using some good old charm, compromise and positive parenting methods.