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NAN: Limit Setting in Discipline

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Limit setting plays an important role in helping to positively guide a child’s behavior. When a nanny sets limits she’s establishing behavioral expectations and holding the child accountable to them. Setting limits helps a child to understand and respect boundaries and to understand what behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not. 

Limits must be communicated to children in a way that they understand and they must be enforced consistently to be effective.  Using simple and clear terms can help a child to better understand the expectations. Telling a child what they can do, rather than what they can’t do, can also help a child better accept limits. For example, telling a child “no hitting” can be effective, but telling a child to “use gentle hands” can also be effective. 

When children don’t have limits, they can feel anxious and scared. While children may act like they want to be in control, for them to feel safe and secure they need to be confident that their adult caretakers are reliable and able to help them manage the sometimes overwhelming feelings that they experience. Although a child may test the limits, when the nanny stands firm a child will understand how serious she is about the limits in place. 

As children grow and develop, the limits will grow with them. For example, a toddler may not only be allowed on the smallest play structure at a park. As he grows and develops, the structures he can safely play on will expand.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Limit Setting in Discipline