Is It Too Late to Set Limits with My Strong-Willed Child?


The parent of a 4-year-old who describes her child as strong-willed and social is concerned that she and her husband did not set boundaries early enough, and they are now paying for it. She admits that for most of her boy’s young life she was reluctant to enforce boundaries so as not to upset him. … Continued

Dad Feels Undermined and Defeated by Partner’s Lack of Limits


In this episode: Janet responds to an email from a stay-at-home parent who feels his efforts to establish and maintain boundaries during the day are undercut when his spouse returns home from work. He believes the daily struggles he has with their daughter “are partly or greatly exacerbated by my wife’s interactions with her…. I’m … Continued

Independent Play, Bonding, and Setting Limits


In this episode: Janet responds to two comments from one of her website articles, “Independent Play: 5 Hints to Get the Ball Rolling”. First, a mother’s question about reading and her 13-month-old’s demands for attention when she has other things to do; and then another mom’s critique of Janet’s advice. Both comments bring up helpful … Continued

Setting Limits with Your Possessive Toddler


In this episode: Janet responds to a mom whose 21-month old son has become possessive about toys, and she’s worried that he’s showing aggression towards other kids. “I don’t know what to do,” she writes, “and I am so scared that through my mistakes of parenting he will become a bully.” Hi, this Janet Lansbury, … Continued

Setting Limits That Make Mealtimes Enjoyable


In this episode: A mother writes that she and her husband are frustrated that they can’t share a peaceful meal with their toddler. They’ve tried a number of different set-ups, but their son ends up throwing tantrums and food. “I don’t enjoy meals,” this mom says, and she’s looking for a new approach. Transcript of … Continued

The Secret to Setting Limits (Without Bribes or Threats)

Hi Janet, Please help! I’m having to rethink my strategies with my 4-year-old.  Normally bedtime is effortless — a great routine, quality time, and straight down. The only caveat is that I’ve used TV as an incentive and threaten to cancel play dates the next day if she doesn’t stay in bed (and have consistently followed … Continued

4-Year-Old Has Emotional, Aggressive Responses to Limits


In this episode: A mom describes her daughter as “super easy, independent and happy” at school but emotional and defiant at home. She suspects her child is going through a “development leap” that will pass (she hopes!) but wonders how to handle her behavior in the meantime. Transcript of “4-Year-Old Has Emotional, Aggressive Responses to … Continued

Finding The Right Tone For Setting Limits


In this episode: a parent is having difficulty convincing her 10-month old that pulling mommy’s hair is not a good game, but her son is not getting the message. Transcript of “Finding The Right Tone For Setting Limits” Hi, this is Janet Lansbury. And in this episode of Unruffled, I’m going to respond to a … Continued

Connecting with Our Kids When We Set Limits (What That Really Means)


I am confident that setting limits is not any parent’s favorite way to connect with a child. Not any parent I know, anyway. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about denying our children’s requests, limiting their behavior, or trying to gain cooperation when they resist. And yet, negotiating these challenging moments is the key to … Continued

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 … Continued

The Real Reasons Toddlers Push Limits

Limit-pushing behavior can confound even the most attuned parent or caregiver. Why would our sweet darling throw her toy at us when we’ve just asked her not to, and then add insult to injury by smirking? Is she evil? Does she have a pressing need to practice throwing skills? Maybe she just hates us… Sensitive, … Continued

Set Limits Without Yelling

In Common Toddler Discipline Mistakes, I explained why punishments and the perception of children misbehaving as “bad” undermine effective and respectful discipline. In the following email exchange, I discuss with Lauren (mother to a toddler) some other common discipline missteps: 1) Yelling; 2) Not setting limits early enough (which often leads to yelling or at … Continued