Setting Limits With Respect – What It Sounds Like (Podcast)

In the four years since I started my web site, I’ve written over three hundred articles. I have always tried to be as specific and descriptive as possible, because I am acutely aware how challenging it is to communicate Magda Gerber’s respectful care practices through the written word. To my amazement, many of you are understanding and successfully implementing these practices without ever seeing (or hearing) them demonstrated. My hat’s off to you!

But for others who prefer show and tell, I thought I’d offer a series of brief audio demonstrations via podcast. This first one is on a popular topic (at least here on this blog): setting limits.

I’ll be covering:

  • Confidently setting limits
  • Acknowledging feelings
  • Honest consequences

I offer these examples of respectful limit setting and encourage you to find your own voice and words.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for future podcast topics, so please share!


 For a complete guide to respectful discipline, please check out my new book: 

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

now available on Audio HERE

(Photo by Greg Westfall on Flickr)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Thank you so much, Janet! I will try to be more nonchalant. She definitely does get to me sometimes!

    1. And that adds interest to this little test. “Wow, that got a rise out of them! Whoa, what’s up with that?”

      You’re so welcome!

  2. Great podcast! I always absorb more easily through listening rather than reading, and this helped put some things into perspective. Looking forward to hearing more of these. I am challenged with three children under the age of 5 and am alone with them most evenings since my husband and I work opposite shifts. I can be SO challenging to keep my cool when they are all having a hard time simultaneously. Thanks for sharing and giving me some hope that I won’t completely ruin these awesome kids. 🙂

    1. You are so welcome, Jennifer! I feel certain you aren’t ruining your kids!

  3. A great podcast for my students to listen to!

    Thank you

  4. avatar Stephanie says:

    Could this apply to teenagers as well? Considering listening for my oldest.

    1. Hmmm… probably slightly different, but the sentiments are the same!

  5. The audio isn’t working (for me, at least). There’s just a gray box with the soundclound logo in the middle. Nothing happens when I click it. I’d love to hear it! Thanks for any help you can offer

  6. Thanks so much for this – was great to hear some examples. I’m struggling with food at the moment. My 26 month old is refusing most food saying it’s “spicy” and instead only asking for custard and jelly. Not sure how to get my previously excellent eater back so a podcast on this topic would be appreciated!

  7. When I respond to my child like this he continues for so long that I’m unsure what to do. So today he wanted his dirty nappy put back on and not his clean one. I said to him ‘you want your dirty nappy on but I can’t let you have your dirty nappy on. It will make you sore….you’re angry and it’s ok to feel angry but I don’t want you to get sore.’ I felt my tone of voice was right etc but this wet on for 45 minutes. What should I be doing during this time? I feel I end up stuck with him and continuously repeating myself until I can’t bear to talk him through it any longer! At what point do I carry on with what I’m doing and wait for him to finish releasing his frustration?

  8. This was very helpful! Thank you!

  9. I didn’t read the comments so I apologize if this has been asked…this is for when setting a limit which I interpret as “stopping a behavior” I.e stop hitting, stop splashing…but what about when you want to make (for lack of better word) them so something? Like picking up toys, put shoes on. Things that at her age are capeable of doing but in the moment they refuse to. Thanks!

  10. I would like to subscribe to your podcast.

  11. Love this post Janet. Great to hear your voice. Thanks for all your other awesome articles. Your advice has been so helpful to me as a parent.

  12. I am trying to implement the techniques mentioned in this podcast, as I have tried some of the things you specifically mention that don’t work (like ‘if you do that one more time no cookie after dinner…’). I don’t think it worked and I’m not sure she gets the idea of the consequence of something being in the future. Right now my daughter who is two years old and generally loving to her 4 month old brother will scream loudly when she doesn’t get her way. So, say I just took her plate away at lunch because she started playing with her food instead of eating after the warnings like ‘I see you are playing with your food. That means you are done eating. If you keep playing with your food I’ll take it away and clean your plates because you are all done.’ She’ll scream a piercing scream and her little brother will start crying. Then she will wait until he calms down and do it again. I can understand how to stop a child from hitting by holding her arms, but how do you stop a child from screaming in a similar situation?

    1. Carrie, I hope Janet will chime in here but it seems to me that her screaming is her natural reaction to the consequence, and she has a right to express her disagreement and anger over what has happened. Maybe you could say, screaming hurts my ears. Can you try speaking to me more softly? Or something like that?

  13. When you say, “ok you wont stop splashing, I’m going to help you out of the tub now” then the child starts crying and begging not to get out, what is the next step?
    I would usually say, “Are you going to stop splashing then?”, and the response would probably be yes and I would let her continue her bath. Is that ok, or is that giving her too much power?

  14. Well, this is wonderful! However my kids are now all in their 40’s and I failed MISERABLY AT THIS! I wish I could go back and have a do-over! I did my best being an unmarried mother of 3 with an incomplete education, terrible jobs that paid awful and undiagnosed ADHD and learning disabilities. OY. Miraculously they all turned out wonderful–oldest owns a million dollar salon, son is an actor and graduate from Vassar and youngest is an MD/PhD on fellowship at Harvard as a neurologist! WOW God gave me amazing children. I expected to be obeyed and I got angry when they didn’t. I was more Father than Mother, there was no father. There were many many ups and downs. I did my best. Life goes on.

    1. Aww, I imagine you did quite well. You had a huge amount on your plate and your children sound wonderful! I have a daughter at Vassar 🙂 If anything, this approach would have probably made your job a bit easier.

  15. avatar Anouska Lyons says:

    HI Janet loving your podcasts – do you have one on getting perspective right – because sometimes i can have the right words but my heart is wanting to say something quite different! I’m the scary mum who says ‘sorry i wasnt there to stop you with gritted teeth’ Thanks Anouska

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