Setting Limits without Curbing Creativity – March 2015

Children are naturally creative and full of energy. However, as a parent, it is important to recognize when your children’s creativity and energy needs some guidance and limits.

According to Beverly Anderson, executive director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa, “As children mature, they need to be taught appropriate behavior for all types of social situations, from playing with other children to eating in a public restaurant.”

“When a behavior is disrespectful, distracting, or harmful to others, then limits need to be set,” says Anderson. “These limits will help your children better understand what behaviors are socially acceptable and expected of them.”

As a parent, you will be responsible for enforcing these limits, which can be difficult at times. However, here are some tips to help you through this process.

Establish Boundaries
Anderson says, “It’s important to remember that children thrive when they know their boundaries and acceptable behaviors. If children aren’t given boundaries, they may develop behavior issues and continue to push it and put themselves or others in danger. By having clear-cut boundaries, it also makes it easier for you, as parent, to be consistent.”

“Don’t be afraid of setting boundaries, but remember to only set limits that are in the best interests of your children. Too many limits can backfire on you.”

Stand Firm but Show Empathy
Holding children accountable for their behaviors or actions can be challenging. In the short term, it may be simpler to let an incident or negative behavior “slide.” In the long run, however, that behavior can only be eliminated with limits that are followed, and this could take months.

According to Anderson, standing firm and enforcing boundaries that are set is important, but you also need to do so with empathy. Talking to your children about acceptable behaviors before going somewhere can eliminate many potential problems. It is also important to make sure your children realize that you have their best interests at heart, but that they need to be responsible and accountable for their actions.

“Setting limits helps children learn about self-control,” says Anderson. “And, it often times also keeps them out of harm’s way.”

Old Limits, New Boundaries
Anderson says to expect that as children grow and mature, some of the limits you have in place will become irrelevant and new ones will need to be implemented. Children will also give you hints by their behavior when a new boundary or limit needs to be set.

Many of these new boundaries will come naturally to you. Curfews and chores might be the obvious ones, but it is important to remember that each child is different and might need other additional or minimal boundaries.

“The key is to remember that when properly assigned and within reason, these limits will help your children to grow into a wonderful adults.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070.