Self Esteem
About Judy
Press Room
Speaking Services

Got A Question?

click here

© 2001-2003
Judith Loseff Lavin
Links to Resources
My Story
Problem Solvers
The Chat Club
Parent to Parent
Contact Judy

Limit Setting Checklist

By Judy Loseff Lavin, M.S.W.
Author of Special Kids Need Special Parents

Years ago I came across a printed checklist for setting limits with your child. I have no idea who wrote it and it wasn’t signed. (Actually, I think I picked it up in some hospital.). I liked it so much that I thought I’d reprint it here to share it with all of you.

If you ask yourself the following questions, you may find out why your rules didn’t work.

  1. Did I tell my child in advance what behavior I want?

  2. Did I make any ‘deadline’ clear?

  3. Did I tell my child in advance what the consequences of his act will be?

  4. Did I mean what I said?

  5. Was my child looking at me when I told him what I wanted?

  6. Did my child try ignoring my request?

  7. Did my child ‘stall’ like by saying, “Wait a minute”?

  8. Was my rule clear? For example, “Clean your room,” might not mean the same thing to an adult as it does to a child.

  9. Did I make the “good” behavior pay?

  10. Was the “payoff” something the child liked?

  11. Did I make the “bad” behavior cost?

  12. Did I give the “payoff” or cost immediately after the given behavior?

  13. Was the cost really something the child didn’t like?

  14. Did I ask a question instead of making a request? A child might think it is OK to say ‘no’ to ‘Will you pick up your things?”

  15. Did I mix “payoffs” with “costs”?

  16. Did I give the “payoff” or “cost” after the behavior?
    Could I be getting “bad” behavior because I have let such behavior pay off in the past?

  17. Could I be failing to get certain “good” behavior, because I have made such behavior cost in the past?

  18. If I can’t seem to get a good behavior, have I tried breaking it into smaller steps and rewarding success at those?

  19. Have I tried helping the child remember by using signals or cues?

  20. Have I tried letting him see someone else perform the desired behavior?

  21. Am I giving up too soon?

For more information visit

Judith Lavin, M.S.W., author of Special Kids Need Special Parents, and a former journalist with the Chicago Sun-Times, recognized the need for an easy-to-read resource for physically and emotionally exhausted parents like herself, as well as their families, teachers, doctors and others who work with them. Lavin speaks to numerous organizations and parent groups around the nation, giving them inspiration and hope.

Lavin’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, Washington Parent and Chicago Parent. In addition, she has appeared  on radio and TV news and talk shows around the U.S., including NBC-TV's Today show, PBS-TV's Small Talk for Parents and the CBS Radio Networks. You can visit Judy at