Gotcha: Trapping Children or Setting Limits

Are you trapping children or setting limits?

Example: Pam knows her daughter Ella drew on the walls and furniture, but Ella is refusing to admit it.

Pam has a choice! She can focus on getting Ella to admit what she did and feel bad for her actions, or Pam can focus on helping Ella learn to be responsible by experiencing the consequences of her actions.

Parent Choice 1: Trap-n-Punish

If Pam chooses to go for admission of guilt, she may say, “Ella, did you draw on these walls?”

Asking a question you already know the answer to is a trap! More than likely, Ella will deny she did anything. Denial is a defense mechanism used when faced with fear of threat.

Once the child denies the situation, then we really become upset, usually saying something like, “Don’t you lie to me. Lying just makes things worse.” From here the interaction can only deteriorate and the opportunity to teach a new skill is lost.

Parent Choice 2: Limits-n-Accountability

If Pam chooses to set a limit and hold Ella accountable for her actions, she may say, "Ella, you wanted to draw some pictures. You may not draw on the walls. Drawing is something you do on paper. You can clean the walls with rag or sponge. Which do you choose?”

It is important that Pam follow up with Ella later when she is drawing on paper by saying, “You did it! You remembered to draw on the paper. Good for you, honey.” Then hug and kiss her all over.

~ Wishing You Well

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