Making the world as safe as possible, physically and emotionally, is obviously one of the major roles of a parent. Children derive their sense of security initially from the adults around them. If the adults make the environment safe in a nurturing, protective way, children can build their own sense of safety and confidence.
There are many ways parents set limits for their children. The three basic styles are:
- Authoritarian: highly rigid, demanding complete obedience
- Permissive: setting a minimum of rules and enforcing the rules erratically, frequently "giving in" to the needs of the moment (this style often evolves as a response to being brought up in an authoritarian style).
- Authoritative: setting clear, consistent rules which still allow a broad range of acceptable behaviors.
Studies have shown that children fare best when brought up with an authoritative limit setting style. This style promotes the optimal balance between self control ("obedience") on the one hand, and initiative, creativity and responsibility on the other.
Limit setting must be understood by parents as an integral part of the separation-individuation process-the process whereby each twin becomes an independent person. As a child begins to be mobile and move away physically, limits to prevent physical danger are needed. As independent personalities and self determination evolve, beginning with the birth of "no," limits on acceptable behavior are called for.