Establishing Limits With Your School-Age Child - Topic Overview
Many children ages 6 to 10, if left to their own devices, would eat
pizza 3 times a day, 7 days a week, or play video games for hours at a time.
That is because they have not developed control over their drives and
appetites, which can include cravings for specific foods, toys, and things, as
well as for praise and attention.
Parents who set limits for their children show them that they love
and care about them. The following suggestions may help you to set fair
and appropriate limits for your school-age children:
- Be a hands-on parent and pay attention to what
your children are doing. Are their activities harmful or dangerous? For
example, do they consistently obey your safety rules while bicycling? Girls may
not be as interested as boys are in taking obvious physical risks. But girls'
activities also need to be monitored.
- Get help in knowing what is
right for your children's developmental level. Look for movie and video reviews
that rate violence and sexual content for families. Likewise, find nutritional
information on the food you buy for the family.
- Set reasonable
limits for your children, and spend time explaining those limits. Family rules
and the consequences of breaking those rules should be well defined and
- Be ready to reassess limits. As children mature, they
will continually outgrow some limits. You might ask your 6-year-old child not
to leave his or her own yard when playing outside. By age 10, your child may be
responsible enough to play within a larger defined area, such as your
cul-de-sac or block. Most children can appreciate the idea that they will be
able to do more activities when they are older. When considering expanding your
children's limits, it may be helpful to discuss specifics as a family and give
the children a voice in the process. This can help your children to feel that
their opinions are important and to gain confidence that their positive behavior
will be rewarded. Eventually, when your children are ready, you can give them
the opportunity to set their own limits and, in doing so, teach them
You can also help your children build healthy habits by being a
good role model. Your everyday actions greatly influence your child's