Setting limits is important for your child, as it will provide him with the structure and self-discipline that he will need, for his entire life. It will also help you enormously, as a single parent, to accomplish the tasks that you need to get done, without undue obstruction from your child.
A couple tips on setting limits:
- Pick your battles wisely. In other words, if you are going to set a limit or a rule, make sure that it’s a necessary one, in order to keep your household running smoothly.
- In the same vein as above, make sure you know why you are setting a limit. For example, it’s easy to explain to your child why he is not allowed to plug a fork into the electrical outlet. Can you explain to him why he can’t wear his favorite striped shirt two days in a row?
- Let your child have input. It may be that your child’s rule sounds silly to you, but if it doesn’t harm the household, and it makes your child feel important, make it a “house rule” (unless he changes his mind, anyhow, to a new rule).
- It’s okay if your child thinks you’re unreasonable and you’re “mean”; if your rules protect the physical and emotional integrity of your household, stick to them! However, acknowledge your child’s feelings on the subject, and consider whether there is any merit to your child’s complaint.
- Be specific. You can’t fault a child for not adhering to a rule if he’s not crystal-clear on what the rule is.