Posts Tagged ‘ limit setting ’

2 Keys To Promoting Good Behavior Across the Ages

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Toddlers, kids, tweens, and teens may pose unique parenting challenges – but there are some principles that apply across all those developmental periods that help promote good, compliant, social behavior. There are 2 constructs that have been shown in research to be key parenting strategies. They are:

1) Limit Setting. Every toddler, tween, and teen needs limit setting. They need to know their boundaries and how to respect them. Some things are off-limits. Some behaviors are not acceptable. Think of providing clear, consistent rules that make sense. A toddler can’t run around and touch every thing they want in a store. A tween can’t talk back to a parent disrespectfully. A teen can’t stay out all night. You can come up with a whole bunch across the ages – but the limits should be clear, to the point, developmentally appropriate, and enforced with consistency. And of course as kids age the limits change – but the principle remains the same. There are limits, they are set, they are adhered to, and there are (appropriate) consequences to not abiding.

2) Monitoring. As toddlers begin to assert their independence, monitoring becomes really important – and remains important through the teen years. Parents of toddlers need to keep an eye on them. Using the example from above, it’s one thing to say a toddler can’t run around a store and touch everything that looks appealing. It’s another thing to actually monitor them to follow through on that. Same principle down the developmental line. It gets hard – we can’t know what our kids are doing every second of the day. But it’s our obligation to be as informed as possible and to be proactive about the need to monitor. As kids get older, an open line of communication is essential as kids spend more and more time outside the home. Mobile technology – which is becoming commonplace – is certainly a tool that can be used in a good way to stay in touch with our kids and  keep the lines of communication open to permit remote monitoring and aid limit setting.

Parenting can be tough. Consistency can be hard to achieve. But keeping in mind basic principles to guide our parenting strategies can help us keep the big picture in mind – and give us a framework that is applicable to nearly every developmental stage.

Find out what your parenting style is with our handy quiz. Then, browse through these no-fail tantrum tamers.

How to Discipline Your Kids
How to Discipline Your Kids
How to Discipline Your Kids

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Discouraging Teen Drug Use: Why Limit Setting Matters More Than Monitoring

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The conventional wisdom for many years is that monitoring and limit setting go hand in hand in terms of discouraging teen drug use. But based on some of the work I’ve been doing over the past few years, the importance of limit setting has dwarfed the role of monitoring. 

Let me explain. I’ve been studying teens who have run into trouble using drugs. Sometimes the trouble is medical in nature, other times legal. But the teen has been using some type of substance and having a bad consequence. When we talk to the parents, the reality is that they often know where their kids are —and also what they are probably doing. It’s not like they think their kids are at the library reading and they are shocked to find out that they were at a party, or at a friend’s house. Their monitoring is actually pretty spot on.

What the issue seems to be is that the kids do not have strict enough limits set. There is a lack of a consistent message that substances can get them into trouble, or can make them sick. They aren’t hearing that kids who drink and drive sometimes die. They don’t hear about a teen who had a few beers and lost their balance and fell off a balcony. There is, in many cases, an acceptance that this is just a normal part of life for the teen.

For many parents, experimenting with substances in the teen years may have been the rule rather than the exception. But we know more about teen substance use now than we did decades ago. We know that the adolescent brain may not tolerate substances well. We know that behaviors like binge drinking can lead to tragic outcomes. We know that kids who may be susceptible to addiction may get on that pathway as teens as early-onset is highly predictive of later problematic use.

So, I would contend that parents are, overall, pretty good about monitoring their kids, in the descriptive sense of knowing where they are and who they are with. What seems to matter greatly is providing kids with the cognitive and social tools to know what the appropriate limits are, and how to abide by them. Open, frank discussions—and some enforced limits—are essential tools for helping teens make good decisions when they are where you think they are, with who you think they are with.

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