Creative Child

Creating Connection Through Correction

Enforcing Limits While Remaining Close with Our Kids
by Rebecca Eanes


Ah, but there’s a small caveat. Even though we may have fewer negative moments than positive moments, being harsh or shaming during correction and enforcing of limits is damaging to the relationship. In other words, saying “no, I won’t allow you to do that” isn’t damaging, but “you’re a bad boy, why would you be so mean?” is.

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It turns out that shaming is a pretty common thing, and although children are very forgiving when we blow it, harsh words and actions leave their mark. So, learning how to approach negative behavior in a positive way is important for keeping our connections strong, and this requires a shift in mindset and approach.

Changing Your Mindset

Positive parenting requires a shift from a fear-based mindset to a love-based mindset. The fear-based mindset says:

  • I must control my child’s behavior. (authoritarian)
  • My child learns not to repeat bad behavior by being punished. (authoritarian)
  • I’m the dominant figure; my child is “under” me. (authoritarian)
  • My child will hate me if I upset him. (permissive)

Trying to positively parent with a fear-based mindset doesn’t work because the focus is still on who has the control, you or your child.

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The love-based mindset says:

  • My role is to teach my child appropriate behavior.
  • My child learns through example and through limits set and enforced respectfully.
  • While I am the leader, my child is a human being with equal rights to be respected and heard.

The real shift occurs when you move away from controlling your child’s behavior toward understanding your child’s behavior. Only when you understand where it’s coming from can you help him learn to do better.

Changing Your Approach

Now that the focus is off control and on connection and understanding, how do you approach correcting her of enforcing your limit while maintaining your connection?

  1. Educate yourself on your child’s brain development.
  2. Look beyond the behavior to the little person in front of you. What is he experiencing right now? What might he be feeling? What kind of help does he need from you?
  3. Offer empathy. Let her know that, even if you disagree with her choice or behavior, you understand what she’s feeling. Read my article Accept Feelings, Limit Actions for more on this.
  4. Remain respectful. Tame your tongue, control your emotions, and own your response. Avoid the 4 behaviors that ruin relationships that I wrote about here.
  5. Look for solutions rather than punishments. If a consequence is necessary, look for one that teaches.

With lots of positive interactions, a love-based mindset, and a positive approach to changing behavior, you can keep your connection with your kids strong as you enforce your limits, correct off-track behavior, and guide them through childhood.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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