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Limit Setting and Psychological Maturation

T.P. Millar, MD, CM, CRCP (C)
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(2):214-221. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740020086011.
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THE ROLE OF limit setting in relation to the psychological maturation of the child has been an uncertain area not only with respect to the rearing of the child but also with respect to psychotherapeutic intervention on behalf of the nonadjusting child.

For some, setting limits has come to have implications of authoritarianism and insensitivity to the internal determinants of the child's behavior.1 The emphasis that has been placed upon the internal conflicts of the child has probably played a significant part in undermining parents' appreciation of their developing child's need for limits. One consequence of this may be that the principal unmet need of many nonadjusting children seen today appears to be their need for wise and effective parental controls.

Similarly, limit setting has been a therapeutic no-man's-land where one ventures at the risk of having his motives critically examined.2 Notable essays into this uncertain territory


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