Setting Limits: With Respect, Confidence, Compassion…and NVC

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[This post and video are part of an ongoing Peaceful Parenting: Conscious Connection Series. If you are interested in receiving peaceful parenting tips and other A Living Family resources and reflections, I invite you to subscribe for my weekly Friday newsletter.]
What can you do to help someone accept your setting limits?
What can you do when you set limits and your child, your partner or another person seems to be feeling angry, sad, frustrated, hurt, confused — any number of feelings?
What can you do to nurture acceptance and nourish connection?

State the limit with calm and clarity.

“I won’t let you hit.” 

“I am not willing/able to do that right now.” 

“The paint goes on the paper.”

“Stay together across the street.”

When the other person reacts, listen in…to you and/or to them.

When your child begins crying loudly and falls down on the floor because you set a limit, “Your child is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.” What a wonderful opportunity to connect, not in the joyful, easygoing moments but when they perhaps need you the most.

“You are feeling angry because you wanted to play with that.”

“You are frustrated because you were counting on some time to yourself to finish that book you’ve been reading.” 

Many times we are not in that place, connected with empathy to others. In those cases, it is helpful to stay silent and connect to our own feelings and needs, especially to process when we take the feelings, needs, actions and behaviors of others personally.

“I really need some cooperation because I feel scared when he climbs up on the counter. I need everyone to stay safe. This is important.”

After giving ourselves some empathy, we have a better chance to stay calm and listen in to your child.

We nurture acceptance of ourselves and our children and of the limit, we nourish connection and joy and love in our relationships.

We sprout peace.



On Setting Limits:

Redirection is a common trick parents are told to use, but what does it teach? I know I thought of it as a go-to strategy for a while. Sometimes distraction is an appropriate tool, but this article calls into question the effectiveness and reasoning behind redirection and distraction, especially without acknowledgement of the situation at hand.

The transformation of this mama is clear. The intro says everything that’s on the minds of many:

I was raised to believe that children are sneaky and manipulative, and the only way to have an orderly household is to punish early and often — to include spanking, withholding meals, and liberal groundings. While I didn’t buy into all of this (I didn’t like it being done to me, why would I think it would foster a good relationship with my own children?), I still thought someform of punishment was necessary. After all, if you didn’t punish, how on earth would a child learn not to do certain things? 

…..Needless to say, she figures it out!

Clear article about setting limits, being a empathetic and proactive leader and teaching appropriate behavior all without punishment, demands or threats.

Want a cooperative 14 month old? Is it possible for a child that young to cooperate? This video shows that it’s possible for children that young to show restraint and impulse control without being manipulated or forced.

Hitting is such a common issue with toddlers and in general. How can parents deal with hitting without punishment when it is just not acceptable behavior?

Similar to the above, but with 4 clear steps to consider and helpful scenarios for children of all ages. I use this one all the time!

The advice for this mama, pushed to the edge, is helpful for all parents of all types of children.

On Crying and Feelings
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