Directors Message

Limit Setting Statements to Positive Interactions

I think its fair to say that at Serra Preschool one of our goals is to build a positive school community. We want our interactions with each other and the children to be playful, fun, rewarding and engaging. Most of the time it is, but then there are times when we have to set limits with the children. There may be one or two children who seem to require more limit setting than the rest. You know that kid whose name you hear over and over. It almost seems that he or she does things on purpose just to get attention.

What we can do to keep a limit-setting statement from becoming dominant is to follow up with at least 5 positive encouraging interactions. This can result in a reversal of any negative behavior patterns

For example, Sam is jumping up and down on the doll bed.

  • The adult might say. “Jumping up and down on the doll bed is not safe”. “I am worried it might break so I can’t let you jump on that.” That is the limit setting statement.
  • “Lets find something safe for you to jump on.” (1st positive interaction)
  • The adult then sits down and watches Sam jump up and down on a mat. (2nd positive interaction)
  • The adult comments on how high Sam is jumping and tries once herself. (3rd positive interaction)
  • Sam leaves the mat and goes to a table. The adult follows him and comments on his choice of choosing a puzzle. (4th positive interaction)
  • The adult then sits down and does a puzzle with Sam. (5th positive interaction)

This child has now experienced the replacement of negative attention getting behaviors with the fun of being a leader and engaging in positive interactions with an adult.

What we have to do when we set limits with a child is stick with him or her and turn the negative interaction into something positive, fun, and playful. This is really all about building connections and keeping them strong. Building connections is something you are already doing by being a part of this school.

I think it is something that can be done not only at school but at home as well. I am looking forward to discussing this with all of you at our end-of-the-day meetings and hearing your thoughts and ideas. Especially if you have tried taking limit setting one step further by adding on some positive interactions.

Happy interacting!
Love, Mrs. Nowicki

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