4 Tips for Surviving Limit Testers
Children are naturally curious beings, and sometimes, things like jumping off the top bunk or riding a scooter off a wall seem like a really good idea at the time.
Few things are more frustrating for tired parents than a child who tests every single limit. At the end of a long day, the last thing you want is a power struggle over bedtime, TV shows, or anything else.
While some kids are fairly easy going and tend to simply follow the rules without much worry, others can really push your buttons.
And therein lies the problem.
Limit testing is actually a very normal part of child development. Kids try to figure out how far they can bend and how much control they really have. It's up to you to remain calm and consistent during these trying times. Only then will your child stop pushing.
Here are 4 tips for surviving limit testers.
Stop the cycle of negativity
When kids push the limits, parents tend to lose their cool. It's only natural. After all, how many times can you possibly provide the same redirect without losing your patience?
Unfortunately, limit testers and their parents tend to get into a cycle of negativity that can be difficult to break: child tests limits; parent yells or makes hurtful facial expression; child digs in heels even harder; parent starts to lose control.
It's difficult to stay calm when patience is running thin, but it's also essential. The cycle of negativity that can result in these situations can harm the relationship and damage the child's self-esteem. Your children aren't actually trying to upset you, but negative begets negative, and these situations can become very inflamed.
Stay calm. Take deep breaths. Say that you need a minute or a breath of fresh air and collect your thoughts. Keep your facial expression neutral and your voice tone calm while you restate the limit in a calming voice as many times as it takes.
Set clear expectations
When parents set clear expectations and stick to them, children understand the rules. It takes the guesswork out of the day.
Posting those basic expectations somewhere in the house also helps. Visuals are interesting and can be good reminders for children. Bonus points if you let your kids create the posters!
Don't get me wrong — they will still test your limits at times. But if the expectations are clear and the visuals are present, it makes it easier to remain calm and positive in the face of frustrating moments.
Be proactive and offer choices
Kids don't have a lot of control over their lives. As much as we attempt to push them toward independence, it can be a frustrating goal when they don't get to make many choices.
It's a good idea to take a proactive approach when dealing with a tiny limit tester. Make a list of the situations and scenarios that trigger limit-testing behavior. After you've got that list put together, go ahead and start brainstorming solutions.
Once you know what typically triggers the behavioral issues, you can work on providing reasonable choices for your child so that he can gain some control over his life. A little bit of control in the form of making decisions can go a long way toward reducing negative behaviors.
Show some empathy
As much as this behavior is frustrating for you, it's also frustrating for your child. Children are naturally curious beings, and sometimes, things like jumping off the top bunk or riding a scooter off a wall seem like a really good idea at the time.
Many children are their own worst critics and begin reprimanding themselves before you even see the result of their choices.
Empathize with your kids. Share a story about a time when you were young and really wanted to push a limit. Have an honest discussion about the reasons for your rules and expectations, and ask your child to come up with some good family rules.
Kids need to feel heard. Listen when they share their feelings and be there for them. Unconditional love wins every time.Read More