Why I Do Not Push My Kids Past Their Comfort Zone

parenting Jun 07, 2023

Can’t you just read a few more pages?

I need 5 minutes and then I’ll help you.

Try again by yourself. I know you can do it.

The standard therapeutic approach is to take where kids are comfortable and then stretch them just beyond. By pushing them outside their comfort zone, the idea is to teach them that they can do more than they think they can.


However, I do not use this approach.

Instead, I try to consistently and steadily honor their boundaries and adjust my expectations to remain within their comfort zone. Why? I’ll tell you.


A crucial dividing line I teach my child is between whats’s “hard” and what’s “too hard.” I am essentially helping them find their own zone of tolerance. What can I handle, and what can I not?

Since behavior is communication, the behaviors that illuminate the edge of the comfort zone are crucially important to recognize, listen to, and reinforce. They are often more subtle.

A stiffening body. A far away expression in the eyes. Fiddling and distractability. Whining. Irritability. Eye rolling. Hanging on your arms and legs. Sass. Complaining. Baby talk.


When we find that line, the line that subtly says, “this is too hard right now,” I get gently curious:

What specifically is too hard?

Is this the same “hard spot” as last time?

Has anything shifted?

Why might that be?


By respecting the edges of the comfort zone, I teach that we do not need to get to meltdown before we make a change. That I am listening to all the forms of communication that they are sharing.

Finding that line also helps me adjust my expectations to fit within their zone of tolerance. Matching my expectations to their abilities is a crucial part of the low demand approach. It enables you to be proud of them every day and enables them to fully blossom in your wholehearted approval.

They learn what’s too hard and to honor their own boundaries. You learn to trust and support those boundaries by aligning with their abilities.


In the context of unconditional support, our children can discern the areas where they are ready to stretch. With a steady base and zero shame, they can spread their wings and soar to new places.

My children do not thrive when pushed. Instead, they need to feel fully safe and fully seen before they can make a step forward. Knowing I am with them, full of love no matter what, they can get curious and explore their inner and outer world. Knowing I trust them, they learn to trust themselves and lean on that trust as they grow.


Why is everything so hard?


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