The Art of Limit Setting

Students want and need to understand the rules of their world.  They want and need to know what is expected of them, i.e. who is really in control, how far they can go, and what happens when they go too far.

The limits and corresponding consequences put into place must be sufficiently significant and tailored to the individual student.  Limits that are under or over significant (i.e. too lenient, inconsistent or strict) will not produce the desired behavior.  The outcome will manifest as an inhibition of learning, and excessive testing of the limits.

Limits are meant to provide clear and definitive answers to children’s questions about what is acceptable and who is in charge.  They teach responsibility by holding students accountable for their choices and behavior.  The failure to set reasonable and appropriate limits because of fear, guilt, love or simply an aversion to conflict, is not helpful to the student.

The long-term goal of the school should be to help the student develop a sense of personal responsibility, character and the capacity to manage their own emotions and behaviors. To do this effectively, limits must be clear, consistent, reasonable, appropriate and enforceable.