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Limits In Childhood – Stepping Stones To Adult Success
As an educator with 30 years of experience supporting children with special needs, I get a lot of questions about parenting. Probably the most frightening problem for parents is why their children behave better, in general, at school than they do at home.
Parents report that children who throw tantrums at home will turn around and comply without question when asked by the teacher. They also wonder how they can get the same compliance at home.
It’s no secret to child experts that children love boundaries and routines. And this is the key to getting good compliance in any daycare or school setting.
It is also the key to good behavior at home.
Children can learn boundaries at a very young age. The sooner you start enforcing small limits, the easier it will be for them and the family. A baby can be slowly discouraged from hitting, a two-year-old can start to learn that certain things are off limits.
From the age of three a child is ready to start controlling his own behavior. They still need a lot of supervision, but they should practice self-control. You never practice this when the situation is dangerous, however! Safety first.
A child attending daycare, preschool, or kindergarten must follow the rules. The transition to school is easier for the child if they have experienced it at home. Children with self-control do better in school.
Limits (and routines) give children a way to understand how the world works. With that comes a sense of security, and that in turn lowers the level of frustration that leads to challenge and anger.
Boundaries teach them that there is someone who will help them stay safe within the confines of this world.
By preventing a child from harming himself – and others – you are teaching him respect for himself, and respect for others. You will also learn that there are people out there who will help prevent others from harming him, (policemen, judges, etc.); this helps the child develop respect for authority.
When you prevent a child from damaging things, you teach him respect for property.
Society values these things in a person. And, of course, these respects help keep us out of jail.
Over time, as children stay within limits, they begin to trust that they can exercise power over themselves. They develop confidence and self-discipline. They realize they can trust themselves, and trust others. These achievements build self-esteem.
And self-esteem is very important for a happy, healthy life.
When we have self-esteem, we tend to stay in school, keep jobs, and develop rewarding relationships. We have the skills to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. We see the need to make a good life for ourselves, and have what it takes to accomplish our goals.
Children’s knowledge of the world is not enough to allow them to set all their own limits. Like everything else they have to take it one step at a time and develop the skills they need. This is helped by consistency and practice.
Adults are responsible for setting these limits, and for teaching children the value of staying within those limits, through consequences, discipline and education.
When we love a child, we have to help them become loving and loving adults. Teaching children how to stay within their limits prepares them to take their place in the world with confidence. It greatly improves the chances of a successful life as an adult.
What could be more satisfying than that?
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