Parenting a Toddler: Struggling with Boundaries & Discipline

As parents I think we all struggle with different things our child is going through and how to go about handling them.

Some of my struggles having been Ace’s hitting, which I have talked about before and now I am struggling with setting limits.

The reason I say I struggle is because I want him to explore in order to learn. I want him to make mistakes and learn from them. I want him to understand it’s ok to have fun and enjoy what the world has to offer. So where does the struggling come in? Well, I think part of me thinks maybe I need to set some limits when it comes to doing certain things but then a bigger part of me says a 16 month old isn’t going to understand some of those limits. Certain ones, yes, he does understand and we set them and work on them but others I go back and forth on if I should start setting them now or allow him to explore and figure things out. I don’t just let him go off on his own but I do watch him and see what he is going to do. I do not believe in being a helicopter parent and stressing about every little thing your child touches or helping them every step of the way. Ace is very smart and I love watching him learn and figure things out. He has always been the type of person to examine things and try to see how it works. It is part of his personality and I don’t want to stomp on that or somehow punish that part of him.

If he wants to go over and play in dirt to feel the texture and see what it is all about than I am all for it. If he wants to paint and make a mess (outside is best for this) than who am I do tell him to not rub paint on his belly or get it in his hair? Granted I don’t want him painting on things he should but I feel like he has years to be told not to get dirty and to color inside the lines so why not let him get a little messy?

I do try to set some boundaries of course. I get very upset (by upset I mean I feel bad that he has hurt his friend but do not get upset with him) when he smacks a friend in the face and we show him how to be gentle or tell him to be nice. We are working on not throwing our sippy and our next big thing is not throwing food by giving him real life consquences like taking the food away until he can stop throwing it but I am not just going to go around tell him no or don’t do that because honestly, he likes to get a reaction but doesn’t like his food being taken away.

It is a learning process but it is one that I think we are doing pretty well at. We are fortunate to have a child who rarely ever whines, who loves to play, learn, explore and be friendly to people. These are qualities I just love about him. He is so outgoing and independent as well as charismatic. He is by no means a spoiled child and I love that as well. He does test us at times and has his moments like any child but I think overall we are truly lucky. Knowing this helps me when I start to think maybe I should do this instead of that or maybe I am doing this wrong or should I be more stern? Should I be doing this or that? In the end I hope he will be a polite, happy, sweet, loving person and I think we are on the right track but man, who knew parenting could be so tough sometimes.

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