Sunday, 12 October 2014

How to set boundaries for toddlers

How many of you have experienced your toddler telling you what to do, answering back or
throwing an almighty tantrum when they don't get their way? You are not alone!

Part of your child's development at this age is to start testing their power and ability to control situations and different people, especially those they hold dearest! They need to know how far they can go and that their caregivers are able to give them limits. To learn this, they play up, don't do what they are told and generally see how far they can push you. Your little one needs to know when they have gone too far and they want to be stopped. 

It is important for children of all ages to have boundaries they understand and that are consistent, and it is especially important for toddlers who are going through a lot of changes. No matter what our age, we all need a set of rules to adhere to (or rebel against!), it is part of what psychologists call 'theory of mind', which makes us human. Our lives would feel chaotic and disorganized if we didn't have rules in place. It is no different for your little one. 

Toddlers also have to learn to express their feeling appropriately, another important stage in their development. Dealing with your toddler pushing boundaries can be frustrating, upsetting and make you want to tear your hair out but it is worth it in the end! I will be giving some advice on dealing with tantrums in my next post :) 

It can be understandably difficult to stick to your guns when your child is pushing you to the limit. However, giving in can be more detrimental to both yourself and your child in the long run. Try your best to stick to your bottom line no matter what. It is important to keep your authority as a parent and not give your child control of the household. 

So now you may have a good idea why boundaries are important, but how do you set positive boundaries with your little one? Here are some tips:

Make your boundaries clear

You need to try and pre-define what is and isn't okay in your house and the consequences that will follow. This is important for both you and your child as in the heat of the moment, it will be much easier for you to stick to your guns if you are confident what they are. It is important for your child as they need to understand what their boundaries are so they know whether they are crossing them or not and what the consequence is if they do. It can be useful with little ones to have visual prompts that you can use to illustrate your expectations and then use them as reminders.  

Follow through with your consequences

Be clear, calm and concise when discussing boundaries and ensure your child understands. When your child crosses a boundary make sure you follow through with whatever you explained initially. Your little one needs to know you mean what you say and understand that actions have consequences in order to develop important life skills. Please don't contradict yourself or your child's other carers. This will lead to a breakdown in respect and it will be much harder to build it up again. 

Be prepared to re-think

If something doesn't work, don't despair, have a rethink when you are calm and try again.
Just make sure you explain it all to your child so they are aware of any changes in your expectations. A lot of parenting involves thinking on your feet and we don't always get it right! Instead take a deep breath, know that you are only human and try again :)

I know it can be a very tough and trying time but you and your child will get through it and the more consistency there is, the better! 

Good luck and for more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page !

See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development.


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