Do you say what you mean when you are setting a limit?
The other morning at playgroup, a little boy kept running up to his mom and punching her. It was a light, somewhat playful punch. And repeated over and over again it seemed quite annoying too. The mom was trying to have a conversation with a friend. Her little boy had other plans.
“Go find a truck.” said the mom.
“What about that kitchen? Want to cook something for me?” she said this time.
Punch. Tug sleeve. Punch.
“Hey, bring me that puzzle?” implored the mom, now getting visibly frustrated.
The little boy walked away. He came back in less than 30 seconds. Long enough for mom to think it worked. Short enough to realize it really didn’t and to feel really annoyed. …And Punch! Punch! Punch!
“STOP Bugging ME FOR HEAVENS sakes!!!!” yelled out the mom, now clearly frazzled, annoyed and at her limit!
Startled, the boy started to cry. “I just wanted to have a conversation, is that too much to ask for??” sighed the mom.
Setting Limits: Why we need to say what we mean
I understood this mom at playgroup. I’ve totally been there.
Not saying what I really mean. Pushed to my limit. Struggling to be clear. Speaking unkindly. Only to regret the whole thing.
What I learned and what we discussed at playgroup that day is this: Failing to be clear with personal boundaries can only lead up to feeling worn out.