Parents, children and limits

Article by Anna Kouroupli, M.Ed. Psychologist-Psychotherapist

Surely there are times when children become disobedient and refuse to respond to specific commands or to follow general rules of the home. Lack of compliance reaches the climax at the age of two but decreases gradually as the child grows up. This occasional non-compliance is related to the comprehensible, though not very convenient, manifestation of the child’s growing independence. However, a reasonable degree of obedience is necessary, since parents and later the school are going to prepare the child for adulthood. When referring to the family, it is good to talk more about boundaries and delimitation than about discipline. Of course, not even for punishments imposed by parents on children when the family rules are not observed or when the limits are set, but for consequences. Dealing children with parents is of paramount importance for their smooth development. Parents are in a very difficult position because on the one hand they must give the child freedom and courage to explore and gain self-confidence and independence, and on the other hand they have to train it to gain self-sufficiency. It is preferable for the parent to make clear lines from the infancy of the child by helping to gradually adapt rather than to take such action suddenly in his teenage years. Determination can be effectively achieved when parents provide clear guidelines because otherwise children experience and play with boundaries. They can be provocative and persistent. Another feature of good delineation is clarity. The clearer, the more precise and the clearer they are in their wording, the more effective they are. It is essential that parental authority be exercised with love and stability.

It is also very important that the limits are expressed positively, as an agreement between the parent and the child and not in a negative way, because then they become a threat. Good demarcation also takes into account the rights and needs of all those involved, in our case, of both parents and children.

What matters most to educating children is not so much that parents are strict, intransigent and rigid or loose and tolerant of having a consistency in character and behavior. Patience is also necessary to make parents’ attempts to define. The limits work proactively, ie they predict what will happen after a possible violation and thus prevent unpleasant situations and conflicts. So if a behavior escapes from the limits, no punishment is imposed suddenly and unexpectedly, no intense anger is caused, as with the punishments that suddenly come after the offense and are imposed by the parent with anger. Some parents think it is a sign of love for their children that they do not want to spoil their charms.

The delimitation is vital, the child needs a frame, from some limits, because their absence creates anxiety within him. It needs parents to guide it and to a certain age to make decisions instead of it. Finally, it is good to ignore some of the things our children do, to overlook some behaviors, especially when these are not harmful to the child.

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