limit setting

There’s a Limit to Setting Limits

Dear Mr. Dad: Anytime the topic of discipline comes up, everyone talks about how important it is to set limits. I agree, but it’s a lot easier to talk about it than to actually do it, especially when the kids (mine are 4 and 8) push back and challenge everything. How do you suggest we go from talking to doing?

A: The reason people talk so much about limit setting is that if you want well-behaved children (and I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t), firm boundaries are critical. However, after all the earnest discussions about the importance of limits, most people do what you do: go home and scratch their heads (or tear their hair out) trying to figure out how to implement them. The good news is that, even if you haven’t done a particularly good job of establishing boundaries, it’s never too late to start.

Before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at why getting kids to respect boundaries is so important. Every civilized society has rules. Most are pretty reasonable, while others are arbitrary or even absurd. But society would grind to a halt—or explode into chaos—if everyone were allowed to create and follow their own rules while ignoring everyone else’s. (That sounds like it might be fun in the beginning, but the charm would wear off pretty quickly.)


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Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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