How To Set Limits For Children Without Using Force

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If we don’t use force, how do we “make” our child do what we want?

Brushing teeth is a great example, since I’ve never known a child who wasn’t inwardly driven to brush his teeth, and I’ve never met a parent who wasn’t irritated trying to persuade their children to brush.

We’re inclined to threaten our children with consequences. In reality, that is the only method to “force” a person to do something they don’t want to do. However, consider the price:

  • It takes away the one thing that pulls our child closer to us at night (the bedtime story.) As a result, the child is now and with more critical concerns LESS inclined to comply.
  • You miss out on one of the most essential parent-child exchanges of your day, both academically and emotionally, when you don’t read with your child.
  • Instead of building a connection where our child WISHES to collaborate, it fosters a power struggle by using threats to get compliance. What will we do if this specific danger does not drive our child? We’ll have to increase the ante by threatening a more serious repercussion. Unless we use force. It teaches our child that conflicts should be settled by threats and coercion rather than by acknowledging both parties’ points of view and working out a win-win scenario.
  • These aren’t the outcomes we’re looking for. However, there are occasions when we must insist on certain things. Brushing your teeth, for example. What can we do?

Enforcing Limits Without Force

Maintain your composure

When you become agitated, your kid goes into fight or flight mode, making you appear to be the enemy and making her less inclined to comply. Remind yourself that this is not an emergency by taking a deep breath. You have the ability to soothe or enflame the storm at any time.

Recognize your children’s viewpoint

“Sweetie, you really don’t like cleaning your teeth, do you? I understand that brushing your teeth is tedious when you’d rather be playing.”

Declare your limit once more

“Before going to bed, we all wash our teeth in this house. This helps to maintain our teeth in good shape.”

Use wish fulfilment to give her what she wants

“When you’re older, I’m sure you’ll decide that you’ll never wash your teeth again! Or maybe you’ll have toothpaste that tastes amazing and you’ll look forward to brushing!” According to brain scans, when we anticipate having something we want, our brain registers satisfaction as if we really had it, therefore this will make your child feel better. Additionally, utilizing imagination to “think” about the problem allows your child to reach the reasoning brain more easily. Finally, you’re demonstrating that you care about her pleasure, even if you can’t grant her wish.

Play is an excellent way to get kids to cooperate.

The stand-off is eliminated once it is turned into a game. Unless they’re unhappy or exhausted, children’s can’t say no to a game offer. So make him laugh.

  • Brush all over his body, including his arm, ear, and stomach. “Should I wash my teeth here?” (“No, Daddy, I’m right here!”)
  • Organize a tooth-brushing competition for him.
  • Brush his teeth and make observations about everything you see in there: “Is it a bowl of spaghetti?
  • …Hey, I bet there’s something valuable down there!”
  • Make amusing expressions at him as he washes his teeth.

Look for a win-win situation

You can always discover a solution if you look outside the box and have the time to be innovative. Your resolve to do so will enlist your children’s assistance in finding one. “Hmm… you don’t want to wash your teeth… AND we need to keep them clean so the sugar bugs don’t chew holes in them…. “Can we figure out a way to make this work for both of us?”

  • “Would you like to brush Teddy’s teeth before I brush yours?”
  • “Would you want to wash MY teeth while I brush yours?”
  • “How about I sing you your favorite song as you clean your teeth?”
  • “Perhaps I might hold you up here so you can brush your teeth while looking in the mirror?”
  • “Would you like me to read to you while you wash your teeth?” (With my daughter, this was the most effective method.) She used to read to herself while brushing her teeth as a teenager… She had the cleanest teeth I’d ever seen!)

You can nearly always find a win-win solution if you keep cool. Of course, what works this week may not work next week, so you’ll have to be creative in coming up with fresh tactics. However, if your child understands that brushing is a must, there will be less resistance.

Does this appear to be a significant amount of effort? Yes, it is! We all want our children would just do what we ask without requiring us to exercise patience or ingenuity. Especially when we’re exhausted at the end of the day.

However, we’re dealing with young people who lack completely formed prefrontal cortexes. They don’t yet grasp why brushing is essential, and they’re still working on building self-discipline. Every time they CHOOSE to give up something they desire (in this example, cleaning their teeth) in exchange for something they want more, they establish the self-discipline brain wiring (a warm connection with us.) When we push children to do something, they aren’t making a choice and aren’t learning self-control. In reality, they are becoming increasingly resistant to our influence.

Yes, this is a significant amount of labour. But it’s not only more enjoyable than shackling or punishing your child; it’s also healthier for her growth. This isn’t a squander of time! It’s time to connect, which deepens your bond and helps your child develop self-control. You’re teaching her some excellent things instead of teaching her that might make right:

  • Mom and Dad care about what I want and attempt to work with me rather than imposing and threatening me. That encourages me to work with them.
  • It’s not that I’m a horrible person for not brushing my teeth. My folks are aware of the situation. I still have to do it, though.
  • People have various viewpoints and requirements; but, if we look outside the box, we can always discover a solution that works for everyone.
  • I’m still not sure why cleaning my teeth is so important to my parents, but it’s not that awful. It’s much more enjoyable since I get to spend time with my folks.
  • My folks are wonderful. They’re fantastic. So I do things for them just because they want me to.

Be Kind And Firm

“Toys ( or remotes) aren’t meant to be thrown.” Because children who are unhappy can’t control themselves, you’ll usually have to act physically to impose the boundary. It’s important for your child to understand that this is a definite boundary. If he detects you waffling, he will continue to try to modify the limit rather than grieve and move on.

The limit is defined by what you, the instructor, or another adult likes or dislikes, wants or does not want for the child. Gaining a deeper grasp of the boundary can help you enforce it without feeling compelled to move a mountain in a single day.

Empathize and Connect

“You’re upset because I said it’s time to go to bed… It’s difficult to put the game down.” Feeling understood helps your kid connect with the more vulnerable feelings that often lurk behind anger: grief, hurt, fear, disappointment, and powerlessness.

The most important relationship that a youngster forms is with his or her parent or caregiver. Children learn more about the world around them when they have positive parent-child interactions. As children grow and change, they look to their parents for assurance that they are safe, secure, and loved. It will also serve as the foundation for their future partnerships.

Accept the Tears

Rather of suppressing your children’s feelings, embrace them. Keep in mind that you’re assisting your child in his or her recovery from their consequences. They’ll start to fade once she feels comfortable enough to accept and allow her feelings go through her. It’s because of your loving, attentive presence that she’s able to feel and get through all of these frightening feelings. If she allows it, hold her, but if she is too angry, simply be close.

Be a testimony to her. You don’t have to say much to get people’s attention; simply reassure them: “I really love you… You’re all right… Everyone gets irritated at times…healthy it’s to let out all your anger and sadness… When you’re ready, I’ll be right here with a huge hug.”

Setting Limits If The child Is Raging Mad

Create additional safety if she becomes locked in fury. When anger feels heard, it begins to fade, so start by acknowledging:

  • “I’m sure this is causing you a lot of grief.”
  • “I’m paying attention. Tell me more about it.”
  • “I’m sorry this is proving to be so difficult.”
  • “I didn’t realize how crucial this was to you.”
  • “It’s no surprise you’re unhappy.”
  • “It appears that you believe….. That must be really painful for you…. I’m very sorry if I influenced you to believe that.”
  • “I can sense your anger. You must’ve been devastated (or terrified) when… I’m very sorry…”

Fear and hurt are always there behind fury. If your child is shouting, check if you can make her feel more secure so she can address the root of her fury. You achieve this by softening your heart in order to be able to provide even more compassion.

Have you observed what’s difficult about this situation? It’s natural to feel afraid or angry when your child is upset. However, your child catches up on these sentiments and becomes angry. Your kid will feel comfortable enough to let go of the fury and experience the emotions that are fueling it if you can calm your breathing and realize that it isn’t an emergency.

If Your Child Is Always Wanting To Get Into Trouble

Remember that when a child acts out, she’s “acting out” feelings that she can’t express verbally. That’s an indication that her emotional baggage is overflowing and needs to be emptied. All she needs is for you to connect with her and make her feel comfortable.

  • How? To give your child something to whine about, you muster all your sympathy and establish a fair, loving restriction. How do you know when it’s time to do it?
  • When your child looks you in the eyes and disobeys the rules. (Instead of feeling all those emotions inside him, he’s attempting to pick a battle with you.)
    Whenever your child is unreasonable, demanding, and difficult to satisfy.

When your child makes you or others unhappy, it’s a sign that he’s unhappy on the inside and needs your assistance dealing with his huge feelings. This is your cue to enter. He’s indicating that he needs you to emotionally and maybe physically hold him. And he’ll keep behaving badly unless you intervene.

You’re not helping your child learn to handle the emotions that are fuelling her disobedience if you penalise her for misbehaving. Even “minor” punishments (operant conditioning)like timeouts isolate her and cut her apart from you at a time when she most needs you. That isn’t to say you don’t set limits when they are essential. In fact, a boundary — established empathically so she feels secure — could be just what she needs to let go of her agitated sensations. Crying in the safety of your loving presence restores a sense of well-being and connection to your kid. She’ll “act good” once she feels better, since our children are wired to interact joyously with the adults they care about.

You Don’t Always Need To Set Limits

Should you constantly set limits when your children are misbehaving? No.

Make certain that the question you’re presenting is age-appropriate. It’s better to remove a two-year-old than to expect her to sit quietly at a restaurant in the sake of setting limits.

Make sure your impatience isn’t the source of the problem. When children are separated from us, they react by acting out; in these circumstances, a strong embrace is the first thing to attempt to restore everyone’s sanity.

Make an effort to assist. If you simply give support with whatever is bothering your child, he could be able to put himself together.

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