Psychology of Parenting
The Difference Between Limits And Consequences

The Difference Between Limits And Consequences

Let’s assume we observe behaviour that is in violation of our family guidelines, such as bouncing a soccer ball around the house. We set a restriction in this situation by allowing our child to choose between two acceptable alternatives. He pays no attention to us. We’ll say it again. He pays no attention to us.

We’re naturally irritated. We have a strong desire to teach our childrens a lesson. Isn’t there supposed to be a “result”?

Yes. To preserve our family rule regarding where balls can be used, we clearly need to take the ball away. But it isn’t a “consequence” (as most parents define it) unless we also punish him for disobeying.

Your child is still learning something. In fact, if you can resist the temptation to punish him, he’ll be eager to make apologies. Really.

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Limits Vs. Consequences

If Your Child Is Kicking A Ball In The House

…something he is well aware of is against the rules of the family. You’re concerned about scuffing the walls. You must establish a limit.

Your child will always be more cooperative if you practise regular preventative maintenance, such as connecting with warmth and empathy and spending one-on-one time. As a result, you may typically merely establish a clear, considerate limit:

“Peter! Ball bouncing is something that should be done outside. Thank you very much!”

Hold the door open for him, and he’ll comply.

What exactly do I mean when I say “connect with warmth and empathy”? The most basic 24/7 reaction to him is to see things from his point of view and to be compassionate. In other words, even while you’re “correcting,” what comes out of your lips is largely warm and “connected.”

“Whoa! I understand how much you like bouncing the ball… but it belongs outside.”

Giving Him A choice

Too many options might make some younger children feel overwhelmed. But, more than the rest of us, strong-willed children respond negatively when they are cornered. As a result, this astute mother allows her child to choose where to bounce the ball. She might also suggest that they find another thing to do.

“Peter! You have a decision to make. You can either bounce the ball outdoors or find another thing to do.”

What If He Ignores You

Isn’t it infuriating? But maybe he’s not being rebellious; he’s simply too preoccupied with his ball skills to notice you. Maybe you haven’t been connecting with him much recently, and this is your warning sign that you need to spend some extra time with him every day, starting tonight. Or perhaps he understands from previous experience that you’ll probably quit up and leave him alone. Maybe he’s simply a stubborn child who has to test a boundary a hundred times to see whether it holds (otherwise known as an “experiential learner.”)

As a result, he ignores you.

Do you find yourself repeating yourself? No!

Don’t ask the same question twice if you haven’t received an answer the first time. You haven’t yet gotten your childrens attention. Instead, you approach him in a pleasant manner, ensuring sure he knows what you’re saying.

So, in this scenario, you stroll up to your kid and intercept the soccer ball, preferably with a grin on your face, but at the very least with a neutral attitude. One arm holds the ball while the other wraps around his shoulder. He raises his irritated gaze to you.

Connection Before Correction

What do you think it’s like when someone tells you you’re wrong? Are you a touch prickly? Do you feel compelled to prove your point or to fight back? That’s exactly how your child feels. And it isn’t exactly conducive to collaboration.

Connecting before “correcting” will help you avoid opposition. He’ll be lot more inclined to listen to you and care about what you want, which means he’ll be more willing to work with you.

Even when you establish your boundaries, connect by seeing his point of view.

“Hey, Buddy… I assume you were too preoccupied with your ball talents to hear me. Your ball skills appear to be excellent. AND, more importantly, where do we play with balls? Right! Outside!”

You’re guiding him towards the door as you talk. You open it, and as he walks out, you hand the ball to him with a smile.

Everybody Wins

That’s usually the end of the situation. You’ve set a limit for yourself. You’ve calmly and kindly redirected his behaviour. If you do this on a regular basis, your kid will bypass the indoor bouncing and go directly outside to practise his ball abilities, since who wants their parents interfering with their ball talents?

However, if you simply have grass outside, the ball may not bounce. In such a scenario, he’ll probably definitely continue to use your corridor. It’s time to find a win-win solution to your situation.

“Hmm… I understand that bouncing the ball on the grass isn’t ideal….and bouncing it inside the home doesn’t work for me since it destroys the wall…. What options do we have? ….Do you believe the school’s blacktop would suffice? What a fantastic concept! I won’t be able to accompany you right now, but if you help me chop these vegetables, we can come over for a half-hour before supper. Let’s collaborate.”

Take note of how your child must wait for pleasure. That is not an easy task. But it’s a healthy habit to get into, and if you keep a great relationship going, he’ll be a lot more driven and able to self-regulate so he can wait.

Taking The Ball Away

If your kid is playing with a toy in a dangerous manner and refuses to react to your redirection, you must remove the object.

“Balls aren’t meant to be bounced around the house.” I understand you don’t want to go outdoors, so let’s put the ball away and find something to do inside. It appears that you require some physical activity…. Do you want to bounce around on the trampoline in the basement?

It’s important to note that this is not a punishment (fear conditioning). You’re establishing a boundary, reinforcing it, and encouraging your child to channel his energy so that he can adhere to it.

Teach Repair

Assume you see your child bouncing his ball down the hall and notice scuff marks on the wall. You declare:

“Whoa! Take a look at that wall. That has to be cleaned up. Let’s go grab the cleaning stuff, sweetie, and I’ll assist you. We always clean up our own messes, don’t we?”

If you do this in a blaming manner, he will instinctively get defensive and resist. It’s at this point when childrens remark things like “You did it!” However, if you can do this joyfully and without blaming your child from the beginning, he will be more willing to accept responsibility. And he’ll start bringing the ball outside without your help, since who wants to clean the walls when they might be doing soccer drills outdoors?

Why There Is No Consequence

Isn’t there supposed to be a reaction to the childrens violation that teaches him a lesson? Yes, of course! Take a look at all the ramifications of what occurred here! Your son has discovered:

  • My mother means it when she instructs me to do anything. It’s pointless to attempt to ignore her.
  • Bouncing the ball around the home scuffs the wall, and I’m in charge of removing the scuff marks…
  • I’d rather just play with the ball outside.
  • When I make mistakes, my parents always forgive me.
  • I’m the one who fixes my own faults and cleans up my own messes.
  • My parents are really interested in what I desire. So I’m interested in what she wants.If I don’t agree with what my mom instructs me to do, she listens and attempts to work with me to find a solution that is beneficial for both of us.
  • I’m good at figuring things out.
  • I have to choose another activity if I use a toy inappropriately.
  • I don’t always get what I want, but I always get something better: a supportive parent.
  • Our family norms are taken seriously by everyone in our household. The most crucial is to treat one other with dignity and respect.

What would he have learnt if you had disciplined him — which is what parents generally mean by “consequences”?

  • My mother and father never get it. She is always shouting at me and punishing me. Why should I comply with her wishes?
  • She takes the ball away from me and punishes me when I bounce it around the house. But only after she starts shouting. So I don’t have to pay attention till she shouts and grabs the ball. I know how far I can push it before I get punished.
  • She snatched my ball. I’m about to irritate my sister. In fact, I’m going to make everyone’s afternoon unpleasant.
  • I’ll bounce the ball around the house as much as I want while she’s not home.
  • No, I have no idea who left those scuff marks.

The fact is that we cannot force another person to do what we desire. We can only assist them if they express a desire to do so. Your child will WANT to follow your direction if you provide loving guidance and empathetic limitations, and those positive habits will become part of who he is whether you are present or not. Are there “consequences” that are intended to punish? Quite the contrary is true.

What’s the difference between loving boundaries and loving consequences? In loving limitations, there is no space for retribution.

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References

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  4. 4.Zuckerman M, Porac J, Lathin D, Deci EL. On the Importance of Self-Determination for Intrinsically-Motivated Behavior. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 1978;4(3):443-446. doi:10.1177/014616727800400317
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  9. 9.Jeynes WH. The Relationship Between Parental Involvement and Urban Secondary School Student Academic Achievement. Urban Education. January 2007:82-110. doi:10.1177/0042085906293818

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