Holiday Limits for KidsDec 15, 2022
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Around the holidays, everything sort of gets unstructured and chaotic. We get really busy. We get overwhelmed. Our kids lose the sense of routine that we've been establishing. And it stresses us out!
As parents, it's good for us to stop and think about how we want our winter break to go and how we want this holiday season to feel.
And a big part of creating the break you want is getting clear on some of the things that you want to set limits around over the next few weeks.
When you pre-decide how you want things to go and set routines and limits around them, you’ll be less confused (and so will your kids). You’ll also have less overwhelm, conflict and yelling.
In this episode, we’re talking all about holiday limits for kids - with lots of examples and ideas you can make your own.
Why set limits?
Limits are good for our kids and good for us. They help our kids learn to think for themselves, take personal responsibility and believe that we're going to follow through.
Limits also help us as parents to feel really calm about communicating our expectations and confident that we know how to handle misbehavior when it happens.
In the beginning, this might feel pretty hard. Your kids aren’t going to suddenly start complying all the time because you’ve laid out a limit.
This is because up until now, your kids may have been trained to believe they don’t have to comply.
It’s totally normal for your kid not to do what you ask right away when they have their own plans and no motivation to change their behavior.
The “traditional” command-threat model often plays out like this…Request. Repeat. Command. Threat. Yell. Guilt.
This is really a fear-based model. And it may get compliance in the short-term, but our goal is to stop yelling and to help our kids learn the social and emotional skills to manage themselves in the long-term.
This is where limits come in. A limit outlines both what your child can do or have and under what conditions. The consequence is built in without making it sound like a threat.
For example, you’re welcome to stay sitting here and watching the play as long as you are quiet. So, the implied consequence is that if your child is not quiet, you will leave the play.
With limits, we’re activating desire, rather than fear. We’re motivating them to get something instead of trying to get them to stop something (which is much harder).
The cool thing about limits is that regardless of the choice your child makes, they are going to learn from it. They’ll learn what they need to do to get the things they want and that it’s really in their best interest to listen to you because it benefits them.
Just because we aren’t yelling and threatening doesn’t mean there are no consequences for misbehavior. Remember, it’s built right into the limit.
But if you want limits to work, you have to be willing to follow through.
Often, a parent avoids following through on a consequence because they don’t want to deal with the meltdown. You want to avoid those big feelings because they are uncomfortable for your child and for you.
But I see these big feeling cycles as a GOOD thing, because it allows you to teach your kid how to deal with their emotions in better ways. So they can handle disappointment, hurt, anger and sadness.
Setting the right limits
As the leader of your family, you have a lot of control and power over the dynamic in your household.
Getting clear on what is important to you and what you are willing to commit to following through on is the first step.
If you’ve struggled with following through in the past, it may be in part because that limit - whether it’s sweets, screentime or whatever - just wasn’t actually that important to you. And that’s ok.
My favorite way to figure out what limits to set is to think about what behaviors you are annoyed or angry about. This is a great clue that you need a limit.
Then, decide what you want to happen and use the limit setting formula to put it into words.
In the full episode, you’ll hear a ton of examples related to sweets, screens, sleep, hygiene, cleaning and more that you can borrow or adjust to use in your home this holiday season.
- Why your kids don’t listen, and the early challenges of limit setting
- The difference between and limit and a request
- How to use the limit setting formula to create a calmer home
- Episode 4: Setting Limits that Work
Connect With Darlynn:
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I have to be honest, when you first start using the limit setting formula, your kids don't actually listen to the limit. There's a lot of following through with consequences in the beginning, and that can be really overwhelming.
Inside Calm Mama Club or my new 3-month group program, Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids, you get support while you're implementing these limits.
I walk you through my step-by-step process for setting limits, emotionally coaching your kids through big feelings, regulating your own feelings and following up on consequences without pain or shame. And you go through it faster and easier with me by your side.
If you’re feeling frustrated by behaviors in your home, book a free call with me. I’ll help you understand what the heck is going on in your family and answer any questions you have about working with me.