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10 Bad Parenting Habits


8
Failing to Stretch Limits
She may want the keys to the car, but is she ready to accept all the responsibilities of driving?
She may want the keys to the car, but is she ready to accept all the responsibilities of driving?
Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

As kids mature, they need more space -- more distance from parental protectiveness, a license to make their own decisions and physical and psychological separation from you. It can be hard to accept your child's growing independence and separateness, and hard to relax your need to protect him or her.

But maturity takes years, guidance and encouragement to develop. It's up to you to give your son or daughter space he or she needs in increments your child can handle. If you step back from your parent-child relationship from time to time and view your kid from a different perspective, it's easier to see when your "baby" is ready to handle more responsibility and independence. Failing to relax rules can push a child to rebellious behavior.

Stretching limits involves two-way trust and communication. Don't just drop the fences. Your kid wants opportunities to safely explore outside the old rules, not the removal of them all. That can be frightening and imply that you no longer care. Reevaluate boundaries before you change them and decide what's appropriate for your child at his or her present age and maturity level.

When you think your child is ready for looser rules -- or when he or she starts demanding them -- talk about it. Listen to your kid's ideas and reasons for wanting more freedom. It may be entirely different from what you were thinking. Share with your son or daughter why you're willing to adjust certain boundaries. Did he or she handle a tough decision in a responsible way? Discuss options for expanded rules and come to agreement. This doesn't mean you give in to everything requested. If a particular request just doesn't fly with you, explain why. Your willingness to listen and compromise shows your child that you recognize and respect his or her growing maturity. Taking part in deciding the new rules also makes kids feel responsible for sticking to them.