Setting boundaries for your children is important to creating a healthy family dynamic. Maintaining boundaries with your kids can be tough since it’s difficult for them to understand why specific actions are unacceptable. However, it’s essential to teach your kids early so that they can grow up with interpersonal skills.
Healthy parent-child boundaries
This can manifest as children following rules and routines like what to do when guests arrive, following a chore schedule, or finishing homework by a particular hour. Rules provide stability and enable children to grow up with skills to manage their lives better.
Many children feel free but still, need to understand boundaries with their parents. Establishing boundaries that your children respect can feel like a tall order. Children will often test the limits of your patience.
Your teenager may fail to stay out of your purse or walk into your bedroom without knocking. Your toddler can grab your phone to watch videos without your permission. They can also interrupt conversations or throw tantrums when denied something.
This can lead to tension, anxiety, discomfort, embarrassment, and resentment. It can also make you feel like your child doesn’t value you. Children can also sense a gap in authority and try to run things or presume to instruct you.
As a result, you can overcorrect and encroach on your children’s boundaries. You can also become too strict, hinder your child’s development, or ruin your relationship. Parents who feel disrespected can also lash out and make their children fear rather than respect them. It can further strain things because your kids feel they can’t approach you to solve problems.
It’s easier to resolve conflict with adults than with children. But if you teach children boundaries, you can avoid such conflict beforehand or have healthier ways to handle it.
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Healthy ways for parents to teach children boundaries
1. Establish your boundaries
Let your child understand you’re the authority figure. As soon as they can, teach them how to approach you respectfully if you’re talking to another adult. Let them know they need to knock before entering your room. If they defy these instructions, explain why disrespect is wrong or try a gentle punishment like taking away a privilege.
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2. Teach your child why boundaries matter
When your child witnesses you crossing a boundary, behave in a way you would like them to emulate. I Apologise and promise to do better. You can also show them what it costs to cross a boundary. If you had promised to take your child out for snacks after they finished their homework, but they went to play anyway, follow through and deny them the outing. This way, they learn that disrespecting boundaries will always have consequences until they redress with an apology and do what they had been asked to.
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3. Be kind to yourself
No parent is perfect. Like any other journey, it’s full of ups and downs. Children are complicated. You can feel like giving up if your kids keep defying your boundaries. You can try teaching, punishing, or getting another authority figure to speak to them, but it still doesn’t work. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep showing them why boundaries matter, so they don’t manipulate you into giving in.
Eventually, your child will know where you stand and what you won’t tolerate. Stick to your values and live by them. Avoid being a reactive parent who relies on emotion.
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