Setting Boundaries for Toddlers

Testing and pushing my limits has become a habit for my son. I know he is acting out his impulses and testing the limits of his power but eventually, it will become unhealthy. I had to set some boundaries so I sat down with my husband so we could make some house rules that will be fair for our kids.

Before we did the house rules, my husband and I discussed first how we are going to prepare one. We need guidelines in creating and enforcing our house rules.

Here are a few tips that I felt helped us in establishing our house rules:

Defining our expectations

We expect certain behaviors from our kids but we have to be clear on those expectations. We cannot expect major expectations yet since they are still young so we have to set small ones first. These expectations revolves around the good values we expect our children to have.

We should also start with a short list and add on later. Some examples of those expectations that they can easily follow and understand:

  • Obey Mom and Dad
  • No fighting with your siblings
  • Never hurt others
  • Pick up your toys after use

Enforcing the rules

When I had my firstborn I was overly protective and always giving in to his demands so that when I had my second child I had a difficult time handling my firstborn’s behavior. Enforcing rules need not be imposing. There are ways of enforcing rules without hurting your child.

One example, my son loves cookies and would often take one from the cookie jar whenever he feels like it. Come mealtime, he cannot eat anymore because he is already full. I told my husband about it and he said do not feed him cookies. I felt that it was too harsh a decision so I simply took the cookie jar out of my son’s reach.

When he asked for a cookie, I told him that he could have one but that is all he could have and I explained to him that I do not want his appetite ruined. At first, there was whining and begging and I almost gave in especially after the begging but when I think of him not having proper meals, I controlled my impulse to give him another cookie. It lasted for several days but when he realized that I was not going to budge, he stopped the whining.

Setting an example

Children idolize their parents. They often imitate what they see us do so it is important that we serve as good role models for them. Setting examples is one way of enforcing rules to my son.

One of the rules we enforced is picking up their toys after use. I would always remind my kids to pick up their toys after playing with them but to no avail. I decided that maybe they would respond better if I show them.

I started picking things up after using them like books, kitchen tools and stuff all the while telling my kids that I am picking up stuff I do not need to keep them from getting torn or causing an accident to others. Once they saw what I was doing, they followed suit until it became a habit for them to pick up after themselves.

Empower them

Make them feel confident and powerful. Give them a chance to choose but make sure their options are fair and not one-sided. I felt my son’s need to assert his independence and he does this by pushing as far as he could get. Young as he is, he does not realize that certain things could cause him more harm than good.

My son loves cookies of every kind and flavor. When I made the rule that he can only have one cookie for a snack, he objected saying that he can have one more because it is a different flavor.

Okay, so his logic is somewhat right but I could not tell him that. I told him that he can have one cookie but I am giving him a chance to choose which flavor. He thought for a moment before he agreed. By giving him a chance to decide which flavor to eat, he felt a sense of power by allowing him to make a decision and not realizing that I still did not let him eat more than one cookie.

Praise them

I made it a habit to praise my son whenever he does something good or positive. I find that he obeys me more whenever I praise him after doing a good deed.

When he started picking up his toys and cleaning up after playtime I gave him a hug and thanked him for cleaning up, adding that he was a big help to me because I did not have to do it and it gave me a chance to get some rest.

Praising him seems to boost his sense of self-worth. It made him feel that what he is doing is important and of great help.

Managing your patience

Even with boundaries already set, your toddler can still try your patience. Testing your limits is going to be your toddler’s favorite hobby. When you find yourself at the end of your rope, keep your patience Mom. Just follow these four tips:

  • Find the source of your problem. If you feel your emotions are getting out of hand and your patience is getting short, find the source. Check where your impatience is stemming from and address it.
  • ·  Face the problem head on instead of ignoring it. If you feel your patience is wearing thin, admit it to yourself. Do not push down your growing impatience. It could lead to bigger problems if you try to avoid it instead of facing it.
  • ·  Once you accept that there is a problem, and where it stems from, find what caused it. Any problem always has a trigger point. Sometimes, it is not your toddler who triggers your anger and thus causing your impatience.
  • ·  Take time to recharge. You may be running on reserve energy and tiredness is catching up with you. It could be time for you to fill the bucket. You cannot take care of others if you do not know how to take care of yourself.