Over the past year, the word “boundaries” has become a huge buzz word. Growing up (actually until quite recently) the word boundaries meant to me the dividing point between two states or neighboring countries.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines boundary as:
something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent
I truly didn’t know that boundaries also means where you draw the line within a relationship. Basically, how much you are willing to give or take before you feel the need for things to change. The relationship can be platonic or familial, business or any type of relationship in between.
I’m going to delve into discussing boundaries with kids first, leaving the conversation of discussing boundaries amongst adults to another article. (Said article may or may not ruffle some feathers, but this topic is super important.)
Discussing Boundaries with Kids
Boundaries are an important part of healthy relationships, and it is important to teach children about boundaries from an early age. Here are some tips for discussing boundaries with kids:
- Use age-appropriate language. Make sure to use language that your child will understand. Breaking out the SAT words that they will not understand is a complete waste of time. Think about yourself as their age and what message would best resonate with them.
- Explain why boundaries are important. Help your child understand that boundaries help keep them safe and healthy, and allow them to have control over their own selves. Setting boundaries will allow for them to foster strong and honest relationships on and off the playground.
- Set boundaries together. Involve your child in the process of setting boundaries. This will help them feel more invested in following the boundaries that are set. Talk about a boundary that you set during the work day (in a manner they would understand – see #1).
- Be a good role model. Children learn by example, so make sure to respect your own boundaries as well as those of others. This may be the hardest but is extremely important. Children are like sponges and repeat what they see. If they see that you backed down to something that you initially didn’t allow (even something as simple as initially not allowing food upstairs, but then acquiescing…)
- Be consistent. It is important to consistently enforce boundaries in order for children to understand and follow them. Consistency is key.
- Be open to negotiation. While it is important to set clear boundaries, be open to negotiating them as your child grows and matures. As your kids get older, new boundaries will be formed as well as some old boundaries will become more lax.
- Offer choices. Giving children the opportunity to make their own decisions within the boundaries that have been set can help them feel more in control. This allows for your children to feel like they are making an impact and part of the plan.
By teaching children about boundaries, you can help them develop healthy relationships and a strong sense of self-respect.