Working Parents Guide To Setting Limits For Kids

Children are tempted to do things they're told not to do. Striking a balance between monitoring your children's activities and placing restrictions can be challenging as a working parent. Read guidelines for setting boundaries for your children.

By Namami
20 Jan 2023

Setting limits for children is challenging for most parents, let alone busy working professionals who battle feelings of guilt and neglect. You may have little or no time to keep track of your kids’ daily development because of your demanding schedules. Being hard on yourself and questioning your parenting skills at such a moment is natural but know this, you are doing your best as a parent. For everything else, there is help, read on for ways to teach your kids self-control and discipline .

According to a 2012 study titled ‘Brain Development During The Preschool Years’ by National Library of Medicine, kids' brain development increases the most during the early age of 0-2 years, increasing their visual and auditory senses. Today, we live in a vulnerable environment where kids are exposed to media, the internet, and various other technological sources of information that may be inappropriate for their age. This is why setting limits is essential for your children to develop discipline and self-control.


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Importance of Setting Boundaries And Limits As Vital Parenting Tools

1. It’s a Science-Backed Nurturing Technique

According to a 2021 study titled ‘The Common-Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens’ by the non-profit research group Common Sense (USA) kids as young as eight are using social media more than ever. Kids might stumble across pornography, images of self-harm, or posts that promote disordered eating. The study found that understanding how kids are using media will prove vital in helping to establish boundaries that accurately reflect the outsize role of media in kids' lives during the pandemic and beyond.


2. Creates Excellent Habits

It can be challenging as a working parent to find ways to help your kids make right choices and to develop good habits in your children. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed in such situations. Parents often compensate or avoid setting limits for their kids because they think doing so will upset the child. Setting limits for your children teaches them a good habit of how to act, giving them a set of social skills that allow them to handle themselves confidently in every situation.


3. Acknowledge Your Child’s Emotions

Not setting boundaries, however, can lead to an unhappy child who doesn’t know how to cope with difficult feelings, which is an essential life skill. According to a 2014 study titled ‘Positive Emotions In Children’ by Laura Oros of National Scientific and Research Council (Argentina), “Positive emotions contribute to the development of social, affective, and cognitive resources that promote psychosocial well-being.”

Studies have indicated that positive emotions contribute to kids and their development of social, affective, and cognitive resources that promote psychosocial well-being. By setting boundaries for your kids and during a tantrum saying “I won't allow you to hit or throw your toys but I am here if you need me”, you are giving your child a chance to practice managing their emotions.


4. Instills Discipline In Your Child

According to a 2004 study titled ‘Effective Discipline for Children’ by National Library of Medicine, discipline teaches youngsters self-control and assists them in becoming emotionally and socially mature adults. Discipline is the process of shaping a child’s behaviour to raise emotionally mature adults.

Setting limits teaches disciplinary self-control and core family values. It also instills assertiveness without being too strict or aggressive. Boundaries and setting limits for children are not meant to rein them, but rather help them grow up healthy.


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When To Set Good Limits For Your Kids

Experts believe setting limits and boundaries for your children requires creating behavioural guidelines without enforcing rigid house rules because it is impossible to make rules regarding everything. Your child communicates when they get your attention, with actions like being more stubborn than usual, any stressful activity, holding onto their comfort toy more than usual or suddenly becoming rebellious. As a parent, it’s on you to read these signs and connect with your little one.

According to experts, children and teenagers do not revolt against their parents, but aggressive or strict forms of parental punishment are met with resistance. When parental criticism becomes habitual, kids become determined to be rebellious. Setting fair limits for younger children will gradually prepare them, as opposed to extremely strict parental rules that encourage their rebellious behaviour.


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Setting Age-Appropriate Limits For Your Child

We have curated a useful list that will help you understand how to set limits and boundaries for your kids and manage work-life balance at the same time. Obviously, your child’s limits and boundaries will change as they age, but the following are our age-appropriate recommendations:


Infants (birth to 12 months)

The main focus during infant years is creating timetables or a routine. This includes establishing a plan for playing, meals, and naps or bedtimes. Maintaining a schedule benefits in the long run since it improves the child’s well-being and allows them to prepare for each activity on time.


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Early Toddlers (1-2 years)

At this age, kids need to explore, so parents have to be a little forgiving. Limits include stopping harmful activities or acts and making the youngster aware of any hostile behaviour. As early toddlers at this age do not grasp verbal explanations, a simple ‘no’ and removing them from what they are doing or shifting their attention to something else helps.


Older Toddlers (2-3 years)

As your child learns that there are restrictions on what they can do or play with, they experiment with their boundaries, expressing tantrums and exercising their choices. It is best to remove or reroute children since they cannot be taught to alter their conduct in response to your commands or rage. Remove the child from the activity and if they are having a temper, comfort them with love until they are quiet.


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School-Age (8 Years And Above)

At this age, kids rely on structure and rules to help them make sense of their surroundings. Their way of thinking is more rebellious and absolute. Despite what they may try to convince you, they require structure and norms in their lives. Children of this age find uncertainty, which exists in the absence of guidance, to be extremely frightening.

Typically, this age group is forced to balance the expectations of their parents and peers. As they get more involved with their friends, they may abandon ideals of their parents and push boundaries unapologetically.


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The best thing a parent can do, despite how challenging it can be at times, is:

  • To make sure children are not pushed to do everything and meet everybody’s expectations.
  • Refrain from lecturing or demeaning an adolescent. Continue to insist that the youngster follow the guidelines you've established and be ready to chat when they need to.
  • Developing a common agreement with your school-age child may also be effective in making them feel heard.


Establishing a healthy relationship and parenting is easier when your child knows where you draw the line. By clearly stating what is acceptable and unacceptable, parents are able to avoid emotionally punishing their children, allowing them to grow up with the abilities they will need to be self-aware and independent.


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