Setting Limits with Love and Connection

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My 18 month old was playing with chalk on the driveway, and discovered that it would fit into the grill of the car. I walked over to him, squatted down next to him, and said, “We can’t put that in there. It’s not good for the car.” He tried several times, so I had to block his hand. I kept smiling at him and repeated, “Sorry, I can’t let you do that, though I know you want to.” He got more and more frustrated, eventually throwing the chalk and ‘running’ away out  the driveway and down the sidewalk.

As he toddled down the sidewalk, I kept close behind him without quite catching up. Occasionally he would slow down enough to look over his shoulder to make sure I was with him. I’d say, “Yes, I’m still here. I love you. You can be as mad as you need to be and I’m going to stay with you.” Then he’d keep on ‘running’. I have to admit it was hard not to chuckle at how sweet he was, with his little arms pumping away trying to get as far away from me as he could.

I tried to get him just enough space to feel powerful, while still being connected. We went all the way around the corner this way. Him checking me (do you still love me?), me reassuring him (yep, I’m still here), him running more. After about 10 minutes of this he turned around with BIG open arms and a huge smile waiting for a hug. We hugged, then he held up his hand for me to hold and we walked back to the house for more play.

Kirsten Nottleson

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