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Love with limits

February 15, 2011
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What the Experts Say …

“The most important thing that children need from their parents is love, but a close second is structure. One of the main ways you create structure in your child’s life is by having expectations for proper behavior as well as constraints on how much freedom your child is granted.” (Psychologist Laurence Steinberg, in his book The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting, p. 87)

In Other Words …

Love comes first. But limits are a very important part of showing our love to children. When we truly love our children, we make sure that they take appropriate limits seriously. They know that they must do their chores and respond to parents’ directions. As parents, we can combine love and limits by staying pleasant even as we enforce important limits. “I wish you could go out and play with your friends. As you know, you cannot go until you have put the toys away.”

How This Applies to You …

Don’t make rules unless you care enough about them to enforce them. Children learn to take you seriously when they see that you mean what you say. You can be pleasant and positive, but, once you’ve made a rule or set a limit, show that you mean it. Positive guidance teaches children they are loved and respected while teaching them to honor limits and boundaries.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org. If you have children less than 5 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more on parenting, we recommend The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting by Laurence Steinberg and Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.

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