How Creating Enforceable Limits for Kids Will Change Your Life as a Parent!
It was a long day. My husband was working late and it was too cold to go outside. So I was stuck inside with two toddlers for over 12 hours. It seemed like the day that would never end! Finally, the kids were in bed and I could sit on the couch in peace. As I reflected on the day I soon felt guilty. I’d spent most of the day yelling at my kids and barking empty threats. Saying things like…
“I’m not going to tell you again…”
“Why does this need to be so difficult?”
Have you ever said something like this to your child?
Many days it’s so easy to go about my day and do whatever it takes to get my kids to comply. Sometimes I just don’t want to hear any more crying!
Things needed to change. And fast. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain this cycle and my kids weren’t benefiting from it either.
I slowly realized my attempts at yelling for compliance and even gentle parenting tactics were only making me more frustrated. I remembered something my sister told me about before I had kids. She is a middle school teacher and a GREAT one. Her students are remarkably good listeners. She told me about creating enforceable limits for kids.
This post contains affiliate links for parenting tools we love.
What is an Enforceable Limit?
First, what in the world is an enforceable limit? Enforceable limits can be applied to teaching as well as parenting. It’s a technique from Love & Logic. A quick side note, this is not a sponsored post just something I truly believe in. As a former parent who easily lost her temper I am firm believer of the techniques from Love & Logic. They make sense and they work.
RELATED: Setting Boundaries With Kids
So back to enforceable limits. A big take home message: The more perceived control a person has, the more likely he or she is to cooperate and listen.
Instead of always telling your child what to do, try telling them what you will do instead.
Examples of Enforceable Limits
I’ll give you a new toy as soon as you put your blocks away.
I’ll take you outside when you ask nicely and wait calmly.
I read stories before bedtime to children who are sitting quietly.
If they are crying and it’s starting to get to you, say the request calmly and walk away to recollect your thoughts. You don’t want to lose your cool as that won’t do anything to help with compliance.
*The biggest thing is to follow through! After you give an enforceable limit, wait until they are actually doing what you asked before you do your part of the equation.
In this article I give you examples of things you can actually enforce.
Instead of shouting “CLEAN UP YOUR TOYS RIGHT NOW” or “YOU’RE GETTING ON MY LAST NERVE, JUST STOP!” you can set an enforceable limit.
We can’t MAKE our kids do anything (if only!) and many times when we raise our voices it actually makes things worse. Instead of listening to what you are saying, they hear your anger or frustration. They tend to concentrate on the anger instead of what your pleading heart is asking for. This in turn can aggravate the situation even more.
Again, I’m not saying all this to make you feel bad! We all need reminders to calm down and think before we talk. Our words are so powerful. Why not use them to our advantage? Want more information on how to stop yelling at your kids, read this!
Why Enforceable Limits Work
So why should I care about this? When you create enforceable limits you provide a structure for your children to live in.
Your children can then choose to live their lives how they want or in the structure you provide.
You are giving them a choice when you say “I’ll serve you lunch when you are sitting quietly in your chair.” They can continue their tantrum and loudly demand food and get nothing or they can sit quietly and receive lunch. The choice is now theirs.
I know it seems simple, but it truly works. We don’t always need fancy sticker charts or elaborate techniques to get our kids to listen. Setting firm and understandable boundaries makes a huge difference.
Try using it with your whiny child. See what happens! You may be surprised how it can fix a whiny child quickly.
Also remember, this is just one parenting technique. Of course there is a time to say no and a time for consequences, but I think this is a great tool for setting up expectations and boundaries for our children. I know I do better when I have structure and I truly believe kids do as well.
So what about you? Have you tried using enforceable limits before? How do you deal with your whiny 2 year old? I’d love to connect with you in the comments below!