How to Set Boundaries!

Posted on by Helena Eddings

How to Set Boundaries!

When your baby cries and you rush to the rescue, your unconditional love creates a deep bond. But all too soon that sweet baby starts testing the limits. Establishing firm, clear boundaries at every developmental stage will provide security and encourage responsibility.

First, set limits without arbitrary threats – no “if then” statements such as, “if you don’t pick up your toys then you can’t have dessert.” Your goal is to encourage cooperation and responsible behavior. Reasonable expectations followed by logical consequences for misbehavior are effective. When children know what your response will be and that you have clear expectations for their behavior, they will learn to comply and will spend much less energy testing your will. Children take control, often inappropriately, when parents don’t set clear boundaries and lovingly follow through to enforce them.


Tell your child when it’s time to put the toys away. Be specific and positive: “Please pick-up your toys now. It’s almost time for dinner.” Make sure it’s a reasonable request for the child to do it alone or offer to help. Don’t coax or remind. If the task is not done as requested a logical consequence should follow. For example, if you have to pick up the toys then you should put them away in a secure place to be brought out in the future when your child makes a commitment to clean up.


If your children misbehave in public, such as the grocery store or a restaurant, leave them home with a responsible adult the next time the family has a special outing. Always offer the opportunity to try again. It will likely take several repetitions before your child believes that you mean what you say. Consistency is the rule.


When you set age-appropriate boundaries, your child will develop confidence and self-control as well as the ability to make good decisions over time. Children with these skills are well on their way to becoming independent, responsible, contributing adults.

Lynn Fisher,

Head of School

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West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.