It is good to remind ourselves that our children are developing in very close proximity to us and to our own capacities to feel shame and invoke our consciences in useful, constructive ways. It will help to take a brief look at our own styles and think about how they will affect our children at this age.
The temperamental “fit” between parent and child plays a big role in the limit-setting process. If this process is to work well, the challenge is to keep drawing your child toward greater and greater self-control.
The fit or match between your style and that of your toddler will never be perfect, nor should it be. However, thinking about how you affect each other can greatly increase the ease with which you set limits for her and help her stay in control when she is threatening to “lose it.”
When you are well tuned to your child, both of you are likely to feel more in control. As a result, your child doesn’t have to resort to ever more dramatic tactics, like shutting down completely or running away.
By the same token, repeated misreading of what a child needs in the limit-setting realm, coupled with too little or too much discipline, leaves her feeling confused and that she has failed as a communicator. These feelings, in turn, lead to a sense of uselessness and hopelessness. So it’s a good idea to periodically reassess your style and that of your child to see where differences could be helpful or troublesome.