Clear limits tell children what we expect of them. Children who understand limits are more likely to assume responsibility for their own actions. A parent might say, “There are many breakable things in this store so please walk carefully and keep your hands to yourself.” A child who hears her mother shout, “Amy, play in the front yard, not in the street!” has a better understanding of where to play than if her mother said, “Don't go in the street!”

Children need to know when a limit applies. We might say, “Never play in the street,” or “Do not go to Amy's house around supper time; they are busy then.” Children should understand how often the limit applies: one time, some of the time, or always. Parents should discuss and agree on limits before announcing them to their children.

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