Who can resist those tiny Butterfingers that you can pop in your mouth all at once, or the Double Bubble that takes you right back to your own childhood (remember, you would chew four pieces at a time and spit it out after 10 minutes)? Those endless bags of candy brought to mind limits, how to set them and harder to do, how to uphold them?
Do you have an open bag policy until all the candy is gone? Do you dole out three pieces a day until you are sick of the complaining that everyone else gets AllllLLLLL the candy they waaaAAAannnntttt? If you parcel out the candy, do you keep the bag under lock and key or operate on the honor system? Do you have them pick their 10 favorites and donate the rest? Do you sneak all the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups after they have gone to bed and feign innocence in the morning?
A limit worth setting is a limit worth upholding
Set as few limits as possible and uphold them with vigor and compassion. What limits come naturally to you: 8pm bedtime, no food outside of the kitchen, no soda in the house, hands washed before mealtimes? Limits that reflect our core values and we are SURE about are the easy ones! What about the more ambiguous ones, let’s say screen time - am I too strict? What are the neighbors doing? These limits we should take our time to think about and decide what is best for our family for now. Limits change and grow as our kids change and grow
Great advice, but it’s not working
Once we set the limit, we aren’t done (ugh!). Sometimes we are thwarted in our upholding of the limit because our kids freak out, or because it’s inconvenient for us, or we are too tired. Upholding a limit really deserves our full attention, and because of the energy needed for that we need as few limits as possible.
Can I take a break yet???
Once we set a limit, consistency is the name of the game. We want to train our kids that we mean business with our limits, we can’t be shaken or broken down with tears or a dramatic tantrum. A few moments of hard won consistency will mean months of ease as the limits we set and uphold become woven into the fabric of our households.
Back to the candy . . . .
We all want the magical answer to how much candy is just right - no complaining, or sugar highs and lows on their part, and no nagging or freaking out on our part. There is no such magical answer for every family, at every age and stage. When everyone gets home from school today let’s talk to them about the limit, what’s reasonable and how it will be upheld.