How One Mom Kept Her Limit (and Her Calm) After a Playdate

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By Andrea McCracken

As the school year has got started my daughter has gotten more and more social, and wants to play with her friends often after school.

One day at a friend's house they had played, had ice cream and done more activities than would typically happen at our house. She was enjoying her friend and this newfound freedom immensely and didn't want to leave when I came to pick her up.

Don't Want to Go

excited-girl-pleadsShe and her friend tried to close the door to the bedroom and run away, and then went and hid in the closet. This was not ok with me. I felt frustrated and upset that she and her friend wouldn’t listen. They had gotten so carried away!

I kept the limit, and was upset when we left the house, although I tried to stay calm.

She was upset too and she railed and resisted against the limit I set that it was time to go home.

Now that she is 6 years old, she tantrums less but shows resistance by trying to ignore the limit and me (the evil limit enforcer!) instead. I had issues about not being listened to and I found this resistance and ignoring even more difficult than a tantrum. It took all my patience and reserves to be able to calmly listen and hear her feelings and desires.

But I did listen. I heard. I repeated back her feelings: “I know you want to stay and play more with your friend.”

And I kept the limit: “It’s time to go now.”

After I listened and helped her feel heard she calmed and we were able to go home.

Keeping to the Limit

It took more patience and lots of repetition to help her internalize my expectations of her at the end of a playdate: That if she couldn't finish what she was doing, get her things, say thank you and goodbye to her friend and her family and graciously leave with us, the she would need to stop having playdates for a few more weeks.

How is it Going?

As much as she might ask, repeat and ignore me following the limit, I hold firm. She doesn't like it when a playdate ends because she misses her friend and the fun of the moment. But my listening and understanding to her feelings does help, and she has learnt to live with the limit even if she doesn’t like it.

From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:

Read why setting limits is a vital part of connecting with your child

Find out how to keep your calm, set a limit and move on with our guide to setting healthy limits

Discover how this mom set a limit on watching cartoons

Andrea McCracken is a candidate in the Hand in Hand Instructor Certification program.

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