Long before I had my daughter, I remember observing a child whose parents would say not to do something, he did it – and there was no reaction, no response. He learned that the word no is meaningless.
When my daughter was little, I kept that in mind. I created boundaries. When she tested those boundaries – and it is a child’s job to test boundaries – I gently reminded her of the rule, and she went back within the boundary. Within the bounds, though, she was free to explore.
I had read that children who know their parents will enforce boundaries are happier – that they aren’t afraid they will get out of control. It’s a big world, and thinking you have to deal with ALL of it at 2 is overwhelming.
I used to say I was both the most strict and most lenient parent in my small group. I had some rules that were more strict than others – it’s easier to follow someone else’s house rules that way – but my daughter also had a lot more freedom. At the same time as more rules. Weird. As she grew older and more capable, her boundaries changed and grew, too. Those adaptations were akin to getting a larger size of clothing as she grew. They fit better, felt better, but were also not so loose as to trip her. Boundaries and flexibility are a good combination. Set them for where your child is now. Adjust as needed.
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