Children need limits, and a parent’s job is to set the limits and stick to them. The limits are for the child’s safety, and properly set limits will not harm the child. Children are not always able to make reasonable decisions on their own, and this cannot be expected of them. However, limits should be set with respect for the child and taking into account the child’s level of development. It is also important that both parents of the child stick to the limits equally.
Maintaining the limits does not always make a parent feel good. Depending on the child’s temperament, the reactions can be strong; the child may scream, flail around, throw things or sulk. The parent nevertheless needs to remain consistent and calm. Children have the right to have their feelings and the right to express them, but even when angry and disappointed, they must not harm themselves or others.
Boundaries do not mean threats, violence, shouting or isolation. The limits are e.g. clear routines, consistency, anticipation and verbalization of feelings. The child is taught, for example, how to react to disappointments and how to look for solutions in a situation where it hurts a lot.
In the defiant stage, the child expresses his own will by experimenting with limits, shouting and tantruming. This is an important stage of development for which the child needs the purposeful guidance of an adult. Information about defiant people and practical tips on how to deal with defiant people can be found in multiple languages on Väestöliitto’s YouTube channel.