Beyond “Setting Limits” (Part 1)

by Scott Noelle

Conventional parenting experts claim that children feel more secure when their parents regularly “set limits,” which means making rules and establishing “consequences” (read: punishments) for breaking the rules.

But this approach fails to distinguish arbitrary controls from real limitations and authentic boundaries. Life naturally provides plenty of limits without you adding to them.

Parents are supposed to empower their children, not limit them.

Parents who buy into the limit-setting myth are needlessly polluting their parent-child relationships with negative expectations and bullying.

And parents who reject it often go too far, as if they have no limits or boundaries at all.

There’s a better way.

All you need to do is acknowledge existing limits (including your own limitations and boundaries) and lovingly help your children accept them — or overcome them.

And remember that self-sacrifice doesn’t work. To truly empower your child, you must find ways that feel empowering to you, too.

Improve Your Groove

Today, simply notice (without judging) how often you’re “setting limits” — do’s, don’ts, shoulds, shouldn’ts, warnings, etc. — and/or how often you try to be “nice” by not honoring your own limits. Notice how you feel.

In Part 2, we’ll start exploring different kinds of limits.

The Beyond “Setting Limits” series:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Originally published on 2015-01-15
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