Setting limits for kids can be really difficult, but it starts with saying no, and meaning it. The following is a look at how to just say no, and set limits for children.
First and foremost, consistency is key. You can’t have a child who follows limits you set if you are not consistent in your actions and words. For example, many children learn early that if they bug you long enough, or whine enough, that any no can be turned to a yes. You can’t let this happen. When you do, they learn that no can mean yes, and thus do not believe or respect you when you tell them no.
Next, always show respect for your child when telling them no. Sometimes requests seem ridiculous, and can be frustrating, but it is a good idea to try and make them feel secure about themselves, and that you telling them no is not because they are not worthy, or something else like that. So, validate your child’s feelings, when telling them no. For example, say, “I know it is hard to stay home on a weekend, rather than go to a party, but you can’t go because…_” This lets them know that you respect their feelings, and understand them, but that you still are saying no.
Use reason a child typically wants to be treated like an adult, and their most childish moments occur when they aren’t treated the way they want to be. So, when telling a child no, help that child understand the rational, logical reasons behind your decision. Explaining to them will help them not ask as often, and not bother you as much about your answer, because they know your reasons. Reasons like, “Because I am your parent and I said so.” Are not going to work, so don’t use them.
If a child has been hearing no a lot lately, try another answer. This does not mean say yes to them, but it means give them options. If they say, “Can I have an ice cream cone?” Instead of “NO” you could say, “You can have an apple, an orange, or a banana.” If they ask if they can go out with friends, and you don’t want them to, you can say, “You can go to the park, the beach, or the movies.” Giving them options helps them see that you are not being a tyrant, or closing off all possibility, just that the option they presented won’t work, so you want them to know they have alternatives. Just be sure when you give the alternatives that you do not use sarcasm, or it will cause problems rather than set limits.
When setting limits with your child and saying no, be sure to stay calm and never let your emotions take control.