Setting limits is so important with children, and this is why. Children like to feel a safety net around them, their boundaries. They continuously test their boundaries as a part of natural development, and learning how life works. When they feel safe and secure they will test their boundaries less. They feel safe and secure when you have set limits. They need to know the parent is in control. Simple. It helps to remember that when setting limits the intention is to teach not to punish. Set out below is a simple model to follow when setting limits.






“Looks like you [feel, want, wish],
but [first object] is not for [action]-ing.
[Second object] is. You can. . .”


“Jim, I know you feel like hitting me, but I’m not for hitting!” [point] “You can hit the stuffed bear, or [point] you can hit the pillow.”

No amount of limit setting will be effective unless a few house rules are established first. It is really important to ask your self is this limit necessary. The reason being, too many limits will cause deaf ears.If you’re struggling to get your child to listen, give directions differently. It takes practice to change the way you speak to your child  Here are five ways that your child will tune out

Only offer warnings if you plan to follow through with a consequence. Are your warnings falling on deaf ears? Give your directions once. If your child doesn’t listen, follow through with a warning and be ready to give him a consequence if he doesn’t take action.

Children quickly recognise the outrageous threats which will not be followed through. Additionally sometimes, parents make threats that sound inviting. Saying, “I’ll turn this car around right now if you don’t stop arguing!” may sound more like a reward, rather than a punishment.

It can be easy to get sucked into an argument with your child without really noticing it’s happening. Don’t get distracted by a power struggle. Instead, be prepared to follow through with a consequence if your child chooses not to comply.

Negative consequences teach your child to make better choices in the future.Follow through with logical consequences that will serve as a life lesson.
Teach your child that you say what you mean and mean what you say.

Raising your voice can easily happen when your child doesn’t listen, and teaches them to tune out.

By being consistent with your limits, your child learns they can trust you to do what you say. Try not to set too many limits at one time. Your child needs to be able to achieve success with following one limit before moving on to another.


I suggest you think ahead and plan out what kind of limits you want to set. To be the limit setter is to decide what a healthy, safe environment is and then be willing to enforce it. Your first way of enforcing it is through verbal directions and reprimands. If your child has a hard time responding to your direction, one of the things that you can fall back on is a consequence structure.


Consequences are a way of maintaining limits; rewards are a way of keeping hope going and expectations high. Consequences are also a way of responding when your child tests limits too forcefully. Come up with a menu of rewards and consequences for your child and have it ready to use when you need it. Remember, kids don’t test limits because they’re kids; they do it because they’re human. Human beings always look to the next horizon; it’s just part of what makes us who we are.


Don’t forget, kids are not little adults, they’re kids. They process information very differently. They sense their feet are on the ground, but they don’t know right from wrong as clearly as we think they do. And certainly in times of stress— when they’re afraid, frustrated or angry—their sense of right and wrong gets lost in the shuffle. It’s our job as parents to keep them focused on what’s right and what’s wrong: what they can and can’t do.


Setting limits on your child is a way to help him internalize good behaviour. You set limits by telling your child “no” and explaining why once. You tell him what the consequences are going to be if the behaviour continues. The next time he does it, you give him the consequence that you laid out. Ideally, he learns to weigh out the cost-benefit ration of following the limits on his own. In that way, you’re helping your child set limits on himself.