How to Set Limits with Laughter

A Guest Post by Stephanie Parker

My daughter is about to turn nine and I've been thinking recently that I'd like her to do more around the house. I haven't spent enough time making this happen in the past, I've taken shortcuts by just doing things myself because it's ‘quicker'.

Happy mom and smiling child on train in post about setting limits on behavior with warmth and laughterSo this morning I'd washed up and after she's finished her breakfast I told her there was some hot soapy water there and that she can wash her bowl and spoon instead of leaving it on the side this morning.

Well, guess what?

She did not want to do that at all!

What To Do When They Refuse? Play!

Luckily I was in a great space and had some good attention to be playful. So basically we wrestled for the next twenty minutes with me attempting to set a loving limit and her trying to get away.

We laughed a lot and I enjoy this wrestling as much as she does.

She then asked both myself and her Dad to give her a minute of special time. She was going to get us to wash her bowl for her in that special time. How clever is that!

Anyway, her Dad did end up washing up the bowl before he went off for the day BUT my daughter was super helpful for the rest of the morning. First, she started by getting her history books out and doing some reading and learning by her self. We homeschool and she has NEVER done this before. Secondly, I had to go up and do some preparation for the communal meal tonight where I live. Normally again she does not like helping but this morning she set the table for 40 people without a blink of the eye. She didn't complain once and she actually seemed to enjoy it.

So she may not have washed her bowl and spoon BUT we had a lot of fun and laughter with me wrestling her to do it and the rest of the morning was a dream.

How Laughter and Limits Work

  • Laughter can clear the way for co-operation
  • Children do want to be the best they can, but feelings cloud that ability
  • When their feelings bubble up, a child's limbic system becomes overwhelmed in the emotion and reason flies out the window. This is where you might hear a defiant “no,” or whining.
  • Setting limits can cause those feelings to bubble, which is actually a healthy way for a child to clear them
  • Warmth and laughter soothes the limbic system by releasing tension and re-enforcing a child's sense of safety
  • When a child feels better, they are able to “do” better – and that is where we see cooperation thrive.

More Hand in Hand Parenting Tips and Tools

Read more on playful parenting in Do you want to see your child's manners improve? Try this playful parenting tool that's fun for everyone

Want to play but just don't feel like it? What If I'm Just Not A Playful Parent?

Learn about Setting Limits in a way that connects and fosters growth with your child with our Setting Limits & Building Co-Operation online class. It’s free with Hand in Hand’s Parent Club Community. Go here for details on how to join here with a 30-day money back guarantee.

meet the instructor

Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor UK Stephanie Parker with her daughterStephanie Parker lives in Gloucestershire, UK with her daughter and partner.

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