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Why Even the Perfect Child Needs Healthy Limits in Life


During the Classroom Management portion of my Montessori training, my instructor shared article of communicating with children titled “The Language of Limits” shared by Marilyn Larkin, a co-founder and administrator of The Village School in Warwick, NJ. I found this 3 part outline extremely resourceful and anticipate it will be very helpful in the classroom.

Children Need Limits

Kids need to know that someone is in charge. I am not saying that we need to be authoritarian, quite the contrary. That is what makes this parenting thing so tricky. Kids need a clam, gentle leader who sets limits. In other words, the adult creates boundaries but gives the child a lot of freedom within it.

a young boy leaning on a fence

Be consistent without being illogical or rigid.

7 Ways to Set Boundaries with Kids

  1. Be objective, not personal: “Colored pencils go in the container.” Instead of “Will you put the colored pencils away for me?” or “I want you to put the colored pencils away in their proper container.”
  2. Positive discipline: “Let’s go find some sensorial work!” Instead of “Keep away from the bead cabinet, you haven’t had a lesson yet!”
  3. Provide a solution: “Please move your chair a bit so that there is room for Jack at the lunch table.” Rather than: “Get out of Jack’s way.”
  4. Be specific (I love this one): “If you gently place the glass of water down onto the table, the water will stay in the glass.” Instead of: “Don’t spill your water.”
  5. Create ground rules together as a class or family: Decide the common laws of your classroom and or home and stick to them. “I will not let you hit in the classroom.” Instead of “We don’t hit people.”
  6. Acknowledge feelings and emotions: “I see that you are angry but I will not let you hit Jack.” Rather than “Why did you hit Jack?” or “I know that going to a new place can make you scared but trying new things is a part of life.” Instead of “You are a big boy now. Big boys don’t get scared when trying new things.”
  7. Be a model to children in all circumstances but particularly with manners: “Good morning, I am happy to see you!” Rather than “Can you say good morning?” or “Thank you for a lovely gift for Jack’s birthday.” Instead of “What do you say?”

Related Read: What You Need to Know about Setting Boundaries for Kids


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