• How to set boundaries with your children

    on Jul 31st, 2012

“Discipline doesn’t break a child’s spirit half as often as the lack of it breaks a parent’s heart”

Many parents wait till their kids break the rules to set boundaries. This builds up resistance and resentment on their part, because they feel that you are taking away a freedom. They weren’t made aware ahead of time that this freedom wasn’t theirs in the first place.

It is much easier to set some rules and boundaries at the beginning of an activity and later, grant more freedom as they get older and show more responsibility.

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For example, if you buy a phone or electronic device for your child, let him or her know that it is not allowed at the table during mealtime.

Sometimes it is hard to know what the rules should be, until they break them, but a little common sense and forethought can help. Being firm also helps. Kids need boundaries to thrive. They will often fight them, but the rules are there to teach them how to be social, to be safe, and to act in respectful ways towards others.

 

Children are wired to test their parents, and see how far they can go. It’s their nature. One of our most important jobs as parents is to stay loving yet firm with our children. Sometimes it is easier to give in and fix things for them, when they can do it on their own, with our assistance if needed; or we let them break the rule because we are tired and worn out, so they break down our defenses by their whining and crying. Don’t beat yourself up when this happens. No parent is perfect! The best advice here is to not react from your emotions, but instead, stay in your parenting role and respond from your principles and values.

imagesCACJKO2SInstead of worrying that your child will fall apart because of difficult emotions in facing the consequences you outlined, have faith that this experience will build your child’s skills and teach him to learn from his experience and face reality.When you know what you value and where you stand, you demonstrate to your children what you believe. Kids are guided in life by watching your actions much more than your statements.

 

When you know what you value and where you stand, you demonstrate to your children what you believe. Kids are guided in life by watching your actions much more than your statements.Make your expectations known. Tell your kids about your guiding principles. For example, if one of your principles is “respect”, and your daughter is frequently rude to you, and calls you names, let her know that you won’t tolerate this behavior and what  she can expect the consequences to be each time she acts in this way. Let her see that you respect yourself and will follow through. This way you are giving her a choice in how to speak to you, but holding her accountable for her actions.

Make your expectations known. Tell your kids about your guiding principles. For example, if one of your principles is “respect”, and your daughter is frequently rude to you, and calls you names, let her know that you won’t tolerate this behavior and what  she can expect the consequences to be each time she acts in this way. Let her see that you respect yourself and will follow through. This way you are giving her a choice in how to speak to you, but holding her accountable for her actions.

Take charge of yourself and communicate more clearly what you expect. Try to say things in a way that conveys that you mean business. Expect to be listened to and taken seriously.

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It is ok to let your child feel the impact of crossing a boundary. For example, you promised your son he can have a play date after he does his chores, but instead he plays video games. If you follow through by not taking him to his play date, he will experience the consequences and will understand at a deeper level what you expect of him next time. He will respect you because you respect yourself and mean what you say. This will teach him to have good boundaries for himself and to have respect for others.

Build up your resilience so you don’t break down when the kids are trying you. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and exercise, stay involved in your own goals and your own life.

In summary, if you let your guiding thoughts and principles drive you, you won’t be so prone to let your emotions run your parenting, and both you and your children will be happier for it!

 

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