One of the couples in the Becoming a Love and Logic Parent class gave a great example of how they set a limit with their 13 year-old son.
The mother shared that she and her husband had been asking their son for a few days to take a shower. He would tell them that he would but by the time bed time came around he would slip into bed without having showered. This pattern would repeat for a few days before he would eventually get himself lathered up.
After starting the Becoming a Love and Logic Parent class, this couple learned how to set some limits by using enforceable statements. So instead of repeatedly asking and reminding, mom and dad decided to remove the mattress from their son’s room while he was at school.
When their son came home and went into his room he noticed that his mattress was gone and went to his mom to find out why. Mom replied in a calm and matter-of-fact way by saying, “Son, dirty boys don’t get to sleep in nice beds.” The mother reported that her son decided to take a shower that night.
Using enforceable statements
Instead of becoming frustrated that their son wasn’t listening to them, this couple decided to set a limit using an enforceable statement. This couple realized that dragging a 13 year-old boy into the shower was not very realistic nor was it culturally appropriate. So instead of forcing him, they set a limit by letting him know what he could have when the task they wanted done was completed.
Using enforceable statements is one of the most effective ways of setting limits with your kids and helps them learn responsibility. It also models to kids how to take good care of themselves and how to set appropriate limits with others.
Here are some examples of enforceable statements parents can use with their kids (or spouse):
“You are welcome to go to your friend’s house when your chores are done.”
“I give allowance out after chores are completed on Saturdays.”
“I prepare nice meals when I know my husband and kids will help clean up.”
“I take kids to the store to pick up school project supplies when I have at least 24 hours advanced notice.”
Try using some of these or other enforceable statements and see if your life becomes a little easier. Just remember to use empathy while you do it in order to up the odds for success.
Thanks for reading
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Therapy Group.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, and Chandler, Arizona.