We all want to parent our children in the best way that we can. Often in the process of doing that we don't end up setting enough boundaries for our kids. We feel that we may limit them too much or curb their curiosity, or that urge to learn. Also there are enough blogs on the internet discouraging us to say 'No' or limit our kids.
Specially when they are much younger, we feel it is ok to let them to do everything that they are, as long as they are not hurting themselves or others, but that's not healthy. Every child needs limits, in fact children love limits. They are always seeking for that limit, from an adult. These limits make them feel safe and secure, and also stress free in a way. When we set limits, specially for toddlers, they stop testing them, but when we lag on that, then they test us way more, and that is where limit pushing behavior arises from. They are just trying to experiment and test and in a way tell us to take care of them by setting limits.
Lets take an analogy which Educator Janet Gonzalez-Mena describes really well.
"Imagine you are driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it very slowly. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence." This is how your toddler feels in regard to limits in his environment.
Also a lot of times when limiting our children, we tend to give too much explanation. It comes very naturally. This is why you shouldn't do this etc, which
1. confuses the child, and he/she misses on the main point, which is to not do something
2. Converts the whole incident into a story, which then is exciting for the toddler to repeat.
Instead we can just give clear instructions, like "Don't do this" or "I don't want you to do this." with confidence and consistency, where the toddler doesn't feel like he has a choice and eventually he starts to trust the adult.
Yes, you should say ‘NO; to your children when there's a requirement to do that.
The other day I had a session with a parent where she mentioned that she feels like she s being mean to her child when she is telling him to do or not do certain things. This has become a norm for parents these days, to feel guilty or feel like they are doing something wrong when they are saying ‘No’.
This is a myth and it is exactly the kind of myth that leads to children growing up without boundaries, believing that they can do or want everything. This becomes even more challenging when these toddlers turn into teenagers, when they can start speaking their mind out, and push and fight even further, without any understanding of boundaries or limits.
This limit challenging behavior often extends beyond the house, be it toddlers or teenagers. If a child has been raised without saying ‘No’ and without any boundaries and / or limits, this child then finds it hard to understand limits out there in the world. The world out there will say ‘No’ to them but then they will have a low emotional regulation and will usually have a hard time dealing with that ‘No’, cause they have never had to. So think again ! Is saying ‘No’ to your child for things you don’t approve of, really such a bad thing after all ?
I have come across a lot of my clients who walk on eggshells when it comes to their kids. Specially the ones that are challenging and much more difficult to handle. It's like the parent has to literally avoid giving opportunities for the child to throw a fit about
Also your relationship with your child is a lifelong one. If you are to raise your child without protecting your own boundaries, while always allowing the child to have everything in his/her way, there will be a lot of ‘compromise’ from your end, which may then also lead to a lot of unnecessary expectation alongside. How healthy will this lifelong relationship with your child be?
"Boundaries are the highest form of love."- Janet Lansbury.