Parenting: Discipline and Limit Setting

How far is too far? Set clear limits with consistent rules and discipline.


"You cannot have a cookie before dinner." "You need to stop at the corner before crossing the street." "Pulling the cat's whiskers is not acceptable."

A million times a day parents set limits with their children. While prior generations associated discipline with punishment, today we equate discipline with setting limits or educating kids about how to get along in the world.

When parents set limits, they are not only showing their children what to do and say, they are helping them to cope with their impulses and anxieties. Limits are internalized and actually make children feel safe. Therefore, it is important to start this process early.

As children grow they will naturally misbehave. They are adventurous, have strong impulses and need to feel independent. The challenge for parents is to work with these developmental issues in a positive and instructive way.

Here are some effective guidelines for setting limits with children of different ages.