Setting Limits

Josh Wanner Road Maps

A few weekends ago, during a busy Saturday of shuttling my three kids from once place to another, my 13-year-old son asked if he could make himself some hotdogs. That was once less person I had to worry about feeding that afternoon, so I told him yes.  I went to pick up my 7-year-old, who was hungry and asking what he could eat. I told him what his brother had, and he was good with the same. When we got home, I began to look for the dogs in the fridge. They, however, were nowhere to be found. I asked my son what had happened to them. “I ate them!”, he replied. I could not believe it; he had eaten all six hotdogs. I asked him, “When have I ever made lunch, and served you six hotdogs?”, “Never!”, he sheepishly responded.

I think one of our main responsibilities as parents is teaching our kids about limits. This applies to food, sports, relationships, money and material things. When I think about it, I’m constantly setting minimum/maximum limits with all three of my kids.

My youngest is a very picky eater, so I’ve found that if I give him a minimum amount of vegetables he has to eat before he gets dessert, he will try to complete the task. With the other two, I have to remind them there is only so much to go around, and there is a max number of tacos or burgers they can have.

My daughter just recently began bowling more competitively. She practices a couple of hours almost every day, and the thing is, if it were up to her, she would spend her entire evening practicing after school and basketball practice. I have to explain to her, that while I love her commitment, I have to limit her time so that her school grades and family time are not put on the back burner.

As we all know, teenagers want the newest and coolest shoes, clothes, video games or devices. While some of their friends may show up to school with the newest iPhone, or a $200 pair of shoes, I’ve made it clear to my kids I’ll keep them in style, but I won’t break the bank to do so. We are going to spend $50 on some jeans rather than $250, and put some money aside for a car, college or any other opportunities that may present themselves.

I’ve found myself having to limit the amount of time my kids spend with certain friends. While I’m happy they have friends they enjoy being around, I also want them to explore relationships with more than just one or two people. Learning to handle all the different personalities of people, while they are young, will only benefit them as they become adults.

When setting limits with small children, start small, set consequences that make sense to them, stick to those limits you’ve set, and try to keep your cool when those set limits are broken.

Herb Cody is a husband and father of three.  He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO.  Herb can be reached for questions or comments at You can check out Herb’s own blog at