Companion to Love and Limits: Guidance Tools for Creative Parenting by Elizabeth Crary

Good day! Thank you for giving this a read, I appreciate your stopping by! This is a short write up on an awesome “parenting strategy” book called Love and Limits: Guidance Tools for Creative Parenting by Elizabeth Crary. This write up is by no means a substitute for the actual book, it’s really more of a companion. You’ll notice some of the concepts are not thoroughly explained and it is important to reference the book throughout. Again, my intention of writing this is NOT to be a substitute for the book, it’s a companion. I hope you find this both helpful and informational.

Image from  Good Reads

Image from Good Reads

“Parenting is the most wonderful job you can do and probably the most frustrating”

Everyone is different, one parenting tool that works for one family may not work well for yours. Parenting requires an “arsenal” of tools, an entire toolbox even; no single tool works all of the time. Remember, It is OK if one tool doesn’t work!! Actually, it is expected for one tool to not work! That’s why you have a whole toolbox, try another tool until you find one that works for you and your child. Implementing tools that work with you and your child will help you both feel better about each other.


The guidance tools offered throughout the book are grouped into five points or sets of tools, Crary uses a star to illustrate these tools. Each point in the star focuses on different aspects of parenting. I’ll be providing short example of each point, but, as a reminder, the book is much more detailed with every topic mentioned in this article.

Love and Limits  pg. 3

Love and Limits pg. 3

  • Look for good behavior and reward cooperation

The behavior you notice and comment on is, essentially, the behavior you get. Reinforce positive behaviors like cooperation and, most importantly, avoid focusing on negative, “problem” behaviors. When you notice good behavior pay attention to it, praise it, and reward it.

  • Acknowledge feelings

    Children must know that their feelings are accepted and not judged. They also must know that their feelings are not something that you want to change. Acknowledging one’s feelings

(in both children and adults) often reduces negative behavior. Remember, feelings are not good nor bad. Feelings exist inside of you, behavior is what you do with those feelings. Help children learn about feelings by accepting their feelings and modeling healthy ways of expressing your own feelings.

  • Set limits

    It is essential to provide clear, reasonable rules. Follow through with these rules is important,, consistency is key.

    “Normal children test limits. Persistent children test limits many times. Remember that persistence is an excellent adult trait. You want to guide it, not crush it.”

  • Teach new skills

    Sometimes parents expect children to have skills they simply do not possess. Teach skills such as sharing, cleaning a room, managing anger, dividing tasks into small pieces, and by asking the child to re-do the activity the correct way.

  • Avoid problems

    Many problems can be avoided by reducing stress, changing things (like the schedule), or by giving choices. Problems are avoided through prevention, not by ignoring them. Here are a few tips to help avoid problems: make expectations clear ahead of time, give children two yeses for each no, and change the situation.

Love and Limits  pg. 5

Love and Limits pg. 5


After this introduction and summary of her star points and tools, Crary goes on to explain the Problem-Solving Process. This four step process is an acronym based on the letter STAR.

  • Stop and focus on yourself, your child, and the problem

    • Where are you and where do you want to go?

    • Stop before you do something that may may things more difficult for you and your child. (I really like to think about parenting as a mutually beneficial relationship, what works best for me and my child?)

  • Think of ideas. Lots and lots and lots of ideas. Remember, it’s all about the number of tools, use all of them if you have to!

    • Use the “star tool” as a starting point

  • Act effectively

    • Pick your battles

    • Choose your timing

    • Get the support you need to carry out the awesome, amazing, super effective plan you have already made!

  • Review, revise, reward

    • Don’t be afraid to tweak your plan

    • Learn from your mistakes - It is OK! The more you beat yourself up about a mistake, the harder it is to move forward from your mistake.

    • Reward yourself (in a healthy way) - you’re awesome and you deserve it - this is HARD WORK!

Love and Limits  pg. 7

Love and Limits pg. 7


A very important thing to remember, it is easier (and more effective) to guide children’s behavior when you have realistic expectation.

Crary provided a great chart that covered some developmental appropriate tasks and behaviors for children at various ages.

This can help with our normal parent confusion around developmental typical behavior vs. defiance.

“Tools and a plan will only be successful if you know what you want. Otherwise, the day-to-day frustration and pressures will tempt you to make decisions that will work against you in the long run. Take time to look at what you want for your child”


Forest Bathing: No Soap Required

Good day! Thank you, as always, for giving this a read, I appreciate you stopping by! Enjoy this short article on Shinrin Yoku.

Spending time in nature can have positive effects on our mental health. The Japanese actually have a term for it, “shinrin yoku”, or “forest bathing” means taking in the forest atmosphere; an easy task that provides some amazing benefits. All there is to do to do is visit some kind of natural area like a park, hiking trail, lake, forest, etc… and walk in a relaxed way. It may take a minute to figure out what the most “relaxed way” of walking is for you, but you will and, when you do, walk relaxed for a while. You may start to feel any number of calming, rejuvenating, and restorative benefits.


Over the past several decades researchers have begun to identify a ton of cognitive and emotional benefits that the practice of shinrin yoku (forest bathing) can provide, including the following…

  • A boost in immune system function and accelerated recovery from surgery or illness

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Reduced levels of stress

  • Improvements in mood

  • Increased ability to focus, including individuals with ADHD like symptoms

  • Increased levels of energy

  • Improvements in sleep


Healthy adults show significant health related gains after nature walks and, in 2012, researchers conduced a study aimed to determine whether or not many of these benefits are experienced in individuals who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Participants engaged in two separate walks, one in an urban setting and one in a natural setting. Participants were required to think of a negative memory in order to induce a negative mood prior to their walk. After each walk, both the nature and urban walks, participants experienced significant cognitive and affective improvements. This study suggests that simply interacting with nature, even when thinking of a painful memory, is beneficial for people suffering from major depressive disorder. They took it one step further and found that the positive effects identified are five times as large as the effect size observed in “healthy” individuals (Berman, et al., 2012)!


Getting out in nature is not only fun, it’s extremely beneficial for your overall physical and mental health! I’ll be writing lots more on the benefits of being outdoors, but hopefully you can use this as an introduction into thinking about and getting outside!


  •  Berman, M.G., Kross, E., Krpan, K.M., Askeren, M.K., Burson, A., Deldin, P.J., …Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 140(3), 300-305.

  •  Home. (2016). Retrieved December 14, 2017, from

  •  Shinrin-yoku, the medicine of being in the forest. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2017, from