5 Tips To Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Kids
Many of us have heard of healthy boundaries and that it’s something important we need to enforce in order to have a healthy relationship with those around us. Learning how to have boundaries within families and more specifically, between parent-child relationships, trust and mutual respect can begin to form over consistent work. Although, what exactly is a boundary? How can boundaries help form meaningful connections?
Why Setting Boundaries Is Important
Having personal boundaries are vital in making sure our needs and limits are clearly communicated to those around us. Children will often push boundaries to see when the parent will ‘give in’ or lean the other way, by remaining consistent and firm, it will become more and more difficult to test these lines drawn because they are visible and non-changing. It allows us to protect our personal feelings as well as the relationships we build because everyone is on the ‘same wavelength’.
When we don’t set boundaries, a domino effect can occur. We may begin to feel like we aren’t enough, that we need to please others, or start feeling rejected within our family unit. Although, these feelings can subside when we begin to set healthy boundaries in our families. But, how do we go about doing this?
5 Tips For Parents
Many people wonder if boundaries are healthy. The answer is yes! Absolutely! Although, define what it means to have healthy boundaries vs. unhealthy boundaries. Saying phrases like “if you truly cared” or “you would do this if you loved…” Is damaging and does more harm than good. Luckily, there are many many ways to set clear, concise limits that make it emotionally healthy for everyone.
- Recognize your limits:
This should go without saying but it’s easier said than done! Let’s say you give your child a couple of chores to do so they can go hang out with friends. This could be a great example of one of your limits. You have a clear boundary in place that lists the expectations of your child, while recognizing their want to hang out with their friends.
- Consistency is key:
Being consistent when enforcing boundaries not only helps your child but also you! The boundaries stay firm, clear, and everybody knows what to expect when something comes up. It also allows you to remain decisive.
- Enforce consequences when boundaries are cross:
Parents might find it hard to find an adequate consequence for their child crossing a boundary, but it doesn’t have to be a “leave all, be all” situation. Using the example from above, your child decides to not do their chores. A proper consequence for this would be to not allow them to go out with their friends since the agreement was they complete the chores first. This is a simple example of how to seamlessly incorporate your limits and boundaries into day to day life.
- Keep it positive:
Boundaries can be hard to put down in the beginning, especially if you are not used to it. But, keeping a positive tone of voice and being specific can make it easier for your child to understand what’s going on and be more willing to respect the boundary. For example, instead of saying “Make sure you are home on time!” you could say “Your curfew is 11:00, if you come home by 11:00, and not after, you are earning trust and demonstrating that you can be responsible with staying out late.” This clearly states what you expect, while also explaining what’s in it for them. Boundaries benefit everyone!
- Don’t beat yourself up:
Parenting is hard work! Don’t feel guilty for enforcing healthy boundaries in your home. In the long run, it will help your child understand people’s limits and how to go about managing others expectations in a respectful way. Also, healthy boundaries are a way to build communication and strengthen your trust between family members. It may take a while for you to fully get the hang out, and that’s okay.
Setting healthy boundaries are important to help children understand what your limits are and the expectations you have of them for their behavior. Additionally, it will give both you and your child the opportunity to have open discussions, honesty, and to teach by example. Define what your non-negotiables are and focus on your mental existence, because you matter too! Boundaries can overall help you become more relaxed and recognize your own triggers.
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