Ever wonder what it would be like to drive on a road with no speed limit?
Admittedly, it sounds pretty fun. Speeding around windy roads, top down, radio blaring.
Until a car whizzes by you at breakneck speed and the one in front of you is suddenly doing 20.
Then, quickly, fun becomes scary. You don't know the rules and freeze.
That's what it's like for kids and limit setting.
At first it's great being the kid whose parents are so cool.
The first feelings of freedom are exhilarating.
Their smiles convince parents that they are happy.
Parents mistake happiness for the close relationship with their kids that they always wanted.
Then, in a moment, in a heartbeat, it all changes.
The child finds himself in a place unanticipated, where the rules are unclear and the temptations are plenty.
The child becomes scared and starts pressing boundaries.
They're looking for the limit. They don't know it but they are desperate for it. They need the enough is enough button. They feel out of control and that scares kids.
Limits feel safe for kids. Limits, rules, and consequences show kids that it's ok to go out and explore that big and scary world because a parent in in charge, watching, keeping an eye out.
Sure, a kid feeling safe doesn't always look like jubilation. Sometimes it looks sad, disappointed, or angry. You might doubt yourself and start to worry that you're a bad parent.
That's ok. Ride it out.
You're still doing good.
In fact, you're doing great,
Kids develop real and lasting closeness with the adults that make them feel safe. Parents avoid or get nervous around setting limits, boundaries, and rules for any number of reasons. Everyone avoids it from time to time. It's not easy! Sometimes it's because they are tired and worn out. Other times, they just want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Mostly, they get caught in fear of losing the relationship.
If this is you today, relax.
Just hit the rewind button, find your do-over, and set the limits you know to be necessary.
If you see yourself here and relate but are stuck in the how, that's ok.
Give me a call. In just one phone session or office visit, you can make a change that makes all the difference.
Until next time,