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Learn how to create a positive family environment with limits setting


Most parents want to teach their children values but struggle with how to do it successfully. Limit setting and discipline, along with being a good role model, are the required tools to teach values. Limits and discipline educate children in values by clearly defining what the family views as important and what it means to be a good person. Additionally, teaching values through limits and discipline supports raising happy and healthy children with good self-esteem and self-control.

To understand this more clearly, let’s focus on the importance of limit setting. Most of the bad press about limits being a barrier to a child’s self-expression is due to a misconstruction of the term. Limit setting, when properly applied, does not diminish a child’s self-expression. Rather, limits are how parents create a safe zone that maximizes their children’s abilities, protect against safety concerns, and support their children taking suitable risks to propel continued development. The key to setting appropriate limits is to define them based on the unique development of each child.

How to establish limits to support the development of each child

Limits should be customized to the unique developmental level of each child that reflects their strengths, weaknesses, potential, and support their continuing development. Specifically, limits are useful to:

  • Maintain the safety of each child
    • Physically
    • Mentally
    • Socially
    • Emotionally
  • Maintain expectations about how children should behave
    • Respecting others
    • Courtesy
    • Shared responsibility
    • Self-control
  • Help children assume responsibility for themselves, little-by-little
    • Limits provide a guide on what is expected
    • Limits provide a reason to behave in the expected way
    • Limits are adapted to the abilities of each child to ensure success
  • Limits help children be successful and build self-esteem
    • Adapted to maximize developmental abilities
    • Open and free enough to allow continued development
    • Controlled sufficiently to avoid pushing them forward too quickly, before they are ready

Likewise, discipline is closely related to limit setting. Discipline is an instrument to evaluate and teach behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs important to the family. Children naturally learn and test limits. Discipline is how parents control where limits start and stop. The application of discipline is merely a continuation of limit setting. To learn more about discipline, please see the blog post titled, “Discipline is a tool to show what is important".

How to structure discipline to align with limit setting to enhance child development

Limit setting is a parenting tool that helps children expand their influence in the world in a developmentally appropriate way. Limits also create a family environment that is respectful and safe for all members. Limit setting is the best tool to teach children how to keep themselves safe, respect others, learn self-control, and build self-esteem. Children who can achieve these tasks are generally happy and enjoyable to be around.

Additionally, limits will help children feel confident and learn how to persist until they reach their goals because they know their parents have set limits to support their success. When children feel safe and supported, they are ready to take on challenges, persevere in doing their best, feel proud of their success or understand their failures without undermining their self-esteem.

Values emerge from a magic mix of limits, discipline and role modeling because children develop a close and trusting relationship with their parents based on an internal consistency between what they see, hear, and experience at home. Additionally, limits and discipline guide children towards clearly communicated perspectives, ideas, and behaviors that ultimately support self-esteem and self-control because they have well defined values in which to base their decisions. Parents who wish to raise value-driven children should tap into the power of limits and discipline to achieve their goal.



© 2019 Deanna Marie Mason

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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

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Dr. Deanna Marie Mason

Calle Téllez, 26, 28007 Madrid
T. +34 912 192 862

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