Most parents know that it is natural for children to test their limits. In fact, boundaries are quite frequently pushed when kids feel as though they need to assess how much they can get away with. The truth is though, pushing boundaries is an important part of becoming independent and learning right from wrong. This will lead them to learn how to think for themselves and make positive choices. Children need to disagree and challenge you occasionally, so they can assert their individuality as they grow. Your mission as their parent, is to teach them how to do this in a respectful manner, avoiding defiant or angry behavior, ultimately showing them that you, as their parent, are the one in charge.
Ultimately your children are built to continually learn and grow and while they are testing their boundaries it is important to solidify your expectations and limits.
How to Set Boundaries with Your Child
To properly develop boundaries, you must be aware of what your values are. Your children need to be aware of what you believe in and who you are. If you value honesty, make sure to model this behaviour. Children are influenced by viewing the way their parents act and behave. In fact, kids often take more from what they see you do, than what they hear you say.
Consistency is Key
Your children need to know that they can trust and count on you. If you aren’t consistent with boundaries and consequences, that can become confusing for everyone involved. Be consistent and your children will trust you to follow through with your word.
Limit Behavior Not Emotion
Always remember that it is ok for you children to be upset about something, but it’s also important to keep the emotions separate from the negative behaviour you wish to instil boundaries toward. Stop the behavior with consequences, but don’t be surprised if there is an emotional response and there is no need to negatively respond to emotions.
It is inevitable that your children will cross the boundaries you’ve set for them, so you’ll also want to decide on the consequences associated with those poor choices. Figure out what the consequences are with anyone else who is helping you parent your children so that the expectations and consequences are the same, no matter who your kids are with. The consequences should be age appropriate and should be based on the severity of poor behaviour.
It is important to learn how to set boundaries with your child. While it is natural for children to test the limits of their parents, it is also important to show them where you draw the line. Define your boundaries, be consistent, limit behaviour rather than emotion and always set clearly defined consequences.
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!