Too strict? Not strict enough?

Written by: Melanie Arons

Have you ever been behind the wheel during a snowstorm? Imagine you are driving in a complete whiteout that keeps getting worse and worse until you can barely even see the lights from the car in front of you. You start to feel panicked, anxious and frustrated. These are the same emotions that children feel when they cannot see what is in front of them: that is they don’t know what boundaries to expect and cannot predict consequences for their actions or rules to keep them safe. This analogy explains the importance of setting limits, having consequence and developing a routine in your children’s lives.

On Wednesday, March 14th, I led a group of NPN parents who attended the “Too Strict or Not Strict Enough: Finding the Right Balance” discussion at Flourish Studios.  My goal was to provide them with some new ideas on methods for setting reasonable limits in order to develop positive behavioral interactions with their children.  For those who couldn’t attend, here are five skills to help you interact with your child/ children that were discussed:      

5 Skills to help parents interact with their children…

1.  Only Give Information without Judgment:  When parents tell children what is wrong with them, it is hard for a child to hear the directive. It is easier to concentrate on the problem when parents describe it. When children are given information, they can usually figure out for themselves what needs to be done and act responsibly. This gives the child the chance to decide what to do.

2.  Give Choices (no more than three):  Choices give children power and independence. This helps them feel in control of their fate and builds confidence.

3.  Say It With A Word:  Shorter is better. Children dislike hearing long lectures and lose the information in too many words.

4.  Ask Questions Rather Than Giving Demands:  Questions give children a chance to recall what was being asked of them and encourages them to interact with their parent rather than being demanded to do something.

5.  Show Empathy:  Children need to know that parents understand how they feel. By relating to children’s feelings and reflecting how they are feeling, children feel understood and are more likely to listen to their parents.

Melanie Arons, LCPC is a psychotherapist who works at Flourish Studios’ psychotherapy practice and is building her practice helping parents, children and families struggling with behavioral or learning difficulties. Melanie is also a mother and proud member of NPN. More information about Melanie can be found at and can be contacted at or (312) 316-6362.

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM