When and why to review the rules and limits we place on children

When and why to review the rules and limits we place on children

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Norms and limits are necessary for the proper development of children. But these norms and limits have to be adapted to the age and moment of the child's development. What we ask of a three-year-old child cannot be the same as a 13-year-old, so these must change.

The rules and limits that we put on children must be present from very early stages but these they have to be modified, allowing a greater level of autonomy and responsibility to children.

Although it must also be borne in mind that there are a number of basic rules that must always be presentNo matter how old our children are, as are the basic rules of coexistence, (do not shout, ask for things in favor and say thank you etc ...)

Remember that the rules have to be few, clear and well understood on the part of the child who has to know what he can or cannot do, as well as the consequences of not complying with the agreement and the rewards of complying with it.

Grouping by age, we can establish some cut-off points at which we could modify these rules and limits, for example:

1. From 0 to 3 years we basically focus on:

  • Handle tantrums. This point is important since we teach them to handle the frustration generated by not getting what they want. This is essential, and it will greatly condition the subsequent development of the child. If as children we always give in to these childish explosions before, when they are older it will cost more to redirect these situations.
  • Teach them autonomy: From a young age, children can do many things by themselves, which helps them grow and also gives them responsibilities. Habits like washing hands, dressing, picking up toys.
  • Basic safety rules, such as not running down the street, crossing the adult's hand, etc ...

At this stage, the consequences have to be in accordance with their age and the rule not met, paying special attention to the fact that it is a learning stage, so we must make sure that we have taught them first what we are going to ask for and more importantly, We have explained the consequences.

2. Between 3 and 6 years: We will continue to work on autonomy, giving him more responsibilities (setting the table, washing himself, making the bed ...). The rules and limits must be present and we will have to continue to remind them of the rules and the consequences of not complying with them, as well as explicitly reinforce the appropriate behaviors. We will begin to teach respect to classmates, teachers, adults ... Attend when they are called, give thanks, ask for things please, understand others, how they can feel, etc.

3. Up to 6 years It is important to understand that it is difficult for children to plan behaviors, anticipate consequences, and execute very complex orders, so the rules and limits must be very specific and appropriate to their abilities. We also have to continually remind them of what they can or cannot do and explain the consequences as many times as necessary.

4. From 6 to 10 years: Although in previous stages there may be some behavior problem, which is handled more or less well, it is normal that it is at this stage when they appear or become more acute, and what was worth us with 4 years does not work for us now. They are more autonomous but they also have a greater personal identity, so that more responses to the "orders" of adults may appear, they are more disobedient or they challenge us more. So it is essential at this stage to readjust rules, tasks, and consequences and that they are firm. At this stage they begin to foresee the consequences of their actions, they are able to think about what will happen if they do this or that thing, so they can be responsible for their actions, and the consequences should be aimed at that, what take responsibility and seek solutions to the conflicts that may arise. If, for example, you do not bring homework, a consequence according to this may be that you seek the solution to the problem, call a friend for example. If you do, the consequence stays there, but if you don't, or don't want to, you may lose a "privilege" like watching TV after dinner.

5. From the age of 11. The rules and limits at these ages are aimed at developing personal responsibility, at a stage in which they demand a lot of their autonomy. For them "freedom" is very important and little by little we are going to give it up, (stay with friends, do things alone, have a mobile ...), but taking into account that if they break the rules, they can lose (temporarily ) those privileges. At these ages, the rules and consequences can be agreed upon.

Basically, the rules and limits must be present at all stages, but we have to adjust the consequences of non-compliance according to the age of the children, as well as the "rewards" or reinforcements. It is important that they are consistent with the age and abilities of children at each age. The objective is to go little by little giving them more autonomy and responsibilities and, that they know how to function by themselves and adjust to the environment.

- Teach the child not to feel obliged to do what he does not want (obviously not focused on ordinary tasks)

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