Prevention Strategy #1: Establish Clear, Consistent and Simple Limits

We looked at ineffective guidance strategies in my last blog. Today is the first of ten prevention strategies, part of 13 guidance strategies that work. The first strategy is establish clear, consistent and simple limits.

What are Limits?

“Limits are statements of what behavior is appropriate. They ensure students know what is expected. Limits should be clearly related to the safety and protection of self, others, and the environment.”(1) “Be Safe. Be Responsible. Be Respectful.” are the most common limits I’ve seen. Examples: “Inside we walk.” “We throw balls outside.” “Chairs are for sitting on.” “This can is for recycling; this one is for garbage.”

Agree on Guidelines

For educators, agree on what the guidelines are for: lining up, dismissal from cafeteria, play areas, getting on bus, etc. At home, decide on the guidelines for general behavior and specifics like clearing dishes off the table or bedtime routines.

Consistency is Critical

Try not to pretend we didn’t see a misbehavior. When educators or parents don’t feel good it is easy to pretend that we didn’t see the misbehavior, so we don’t have to use our energy to deal with it. Whether we feel good or not, setting limits works best when we’re able to reinforce the behavior consistently over time. What behaviors do you set limits on? What is difficult about being consistent?



  1. Guiding Children’s Behavior, BC Health Planning, 2003.
  2. Image: Know the rules []

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