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“Before setting a limit or correcting, pause and think. Ask yourself, “Is this a health or safety concern? Does it harm people or property?” – Sarah Rosensweet

 

So many parents ask me, “How do I know which limits to set?” 

This simple question will lead you to your answer! 

Can your toddler drink the bubble solution? Can your 6-year-old stay up as late as they want? Is it okay for your 10-year-old to ride a bike without a helmet? Should your 13-year-old have unlimited screen time?  

No, no no and no. These are health and/or safety concerns. 

Can your 4-year-old throw rocks around your car? Or around playmates? Should your 6-year-old be able to run with scissors? Should your 11-year-old and their friends play basketball in the kitchen? 

No! People or property could be hurt or damaged.  

We never have to be mean about it though. 

Remember, empathy always helps the limit feel a little less painful. “I know! You really don’t like these screen limits. It’s NOT fair that your friends all get to have unlimited screen and you don’t. I hear you.” 

(Pro tip: You can add in, “It would be so much easier for me to say yes to this, sweetie. It’s a heath/safety issue and I love you enough to say no.” This really helped my kids to understand why I had to say, “No.”) 

It can get a little trickier when it’s not as black or white as the examples I gave you above. 

We might encounter gray areas such as: is it okay to wear pajamas to school? What about not brushing hair and living with tangles? What about not wearing a hat when it’s below zero?  

And what constitutes damage to property varies from family to family. Maybe you don’t mind if your children jump on the couch or the bed whereas some people might not allow it. I know someone who lets their child draw on their bedroom walls. While I admire their nonchalance, I wouldn’t do that!  

I encourage you to dig deep and really think carefully about the question: Is it *really* harmful or dangerous? We might *prefer* that our child wear clothes instead of jammies and brush their hair- but can we let them make this decision ultimately? It’s their body. They will learn through experience. Sometimes we have to let go of our agenda or our preference- no matter how much sense they make to us.  

Children need the freedom to learn and to practice making decisions. You might need to give yourself some compassion when it’s hard to let go and remind yourself that it’s not an emergency! 

Save the limit setting for when it’s really necessary.

Want some more support?

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Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 14, 17, and 20). Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”

Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com

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