In a child’s growth and learning process however, there will be times when we need to present clear limits and confident boundaries. In social environments, a young child’s ability to self-regulate may not be well established and their ability to control impulses will not be fully developed for some time. Children need us to be engaged and present, even when we are intentionally stepping back to observe their play. A child’s need for limits and boundaries will vary greatly depending on their innate temperament and will always be influenced by their physiological state. A hungry, tired or over stimulated child will need us to step in more frequently and create boundaries that keep him and those around him safe. Confident leadership from caregivers will help a child relax, internalize expectations and let go of the need to continue to search for limits. Stepping back during times of productive play and exploration, woven with confident leadership when behavior becomes unproductive or hurtful is the delicate balance of respectful caregiving.
“The most loving way to say ‘no’ is directly, confidently and long before we become annoyed or angry. This isn’t about being harsh, and it’s definitely not punitive. It’s simply being decisive.” Janet Lansbury
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