Children have a tendency to test the boundaries in an effort to understand and explore the world around them; this is also true for adults. However, sometimes healthy boundaries need to be set. They help children learn acceptable and unacceptable behavior and set the tone for relationships. Boundaries are even more important during the early stages of life because children form who they are; boundaries help identify a sense of self.
For parents, setting healthy boundaries for children is not easy because it means saying “No” or asserting your own will when you have the urge to say “Yes” to your children all the time. But if you don’t set boundaries, then you’re going to have an out-of-control child with poor decision-making skills. So, you must hold the line and provide clear expectations for your children. Your mission as a parent is to teach children how to test limits respectfully, without being defiant or angry, and to know that you, the parent, are the one in charge.
We at Baby Steps Daycare understand the challenges of parenting. We want to share with you our understanding of the importance of setting boundaries for children and provide you with tips on how to set healthy boundaries for kids:
Why Kids Need Boundaries?
There are a lot of reasons why kids need boundaries. The includes:
- Having a Solid Sense of Self – Not having limits sows the seeds of entitlement. They believe they can have anything they want whenever they want it and don’t listen to anyone. Also, narcissists struggle with accepting responsibility and blame others for their problems. When children don’t know what’s acceptable or unacceptable behavior, it can lead to confusion. Setting limits early helps the child identify right and wrong so that they know what’s expected of them and what’s not tolerated. It builds a solid sense of self and identity. If a child has a strong sense of who he is, he will have solid self-esteem.
- Knowing who’s the boss – If you’re always saying yes, you’re not going to be in control. That’s why it’s important for young kids to learn certain things they can’t have right now. And if they want something, they need to save up for it or wait until their birthday or Christmas. So, when your child wants something, and you tell her “No,” she will have to wait until some conditions are met, or the situation changes. It helps her learn that she cannot always get what she wants. She will also know that you’re the Boss and that things don’t go exactly as she wishes.
- Reduce Conflicts – If children don’t learn that they can’t always get what they want, then there will be conflicts, which can lead to a lot of emotional strain for all involved. Setting healthy boundaries for kids helps them understand other people’s perspectives and reinforces that you are in charge. It also helps reduce conflicts because when you have a set of rules, everyone knows what is expected and what is not allowed.
7 Tips On How To Establish Healthy Boundaries for Children
1. Set Effective Communication
Teach your children to express their thoughts and needs in a respectful way. They must learn to put up their hands, ask appropriate questions and wait for their turn. If they have a question and receive a “no” answer, they are taught to rephrase their question. You can do it by modeling the behavior and attitude you want. Talk to your kid in a kind and respectful tone, be firm when you discipline, and avoid yelling at or belittling your kid when you don’t agree with them or when they do wrong.
2. Establish Family Rules
Decide what rules you want to establish in your family and write them down. For example, if you feel that your child is too active and overshares information, teach her to keep the information to herself and wait for an appropriate time. For example, when she asks questions about her friends or other kids at school, only let her ask relevant questions. Do not make comments about the kid or their friends. State your rules clearly for each of your children so that they understand them before doing them. First, you can verbally explain the rules and follow them with a written list.
3. Keep The Instructions Brief
Doing a long explanation with a 6-year-old about why they should not suddenly let go of your hand and run in the park or why they need to go to bed early is not going to serve any purpose. Your kid will not be able to listen, absorb your rule, and remember the information next time. The effective thing to do is to give children consequences. For instance, running suddenly in the parking lot may mean that you won’t get them a snack at the store. Remind children what to do instead: “You must hold my hand when we walk from our house to the store.
4. Be Consistent
When you establish a rule, be consistent. You will lose credibility as a parent and create discord in your family if you are not consistent with your rules. If you tell your child to wait for a specific time before doing a certain act, make sure they follow it when you have stated. If you require them to wear certain clothes and talk in a particular way, make sure they wear them properly and speak in the way they were told.
Follow through on the consequences of your child’s bad behavior. Don’t hesitate to discipline or worry that your kid will be angry or upset with you. That is always part of the course, and in the long run, young kids will benefit from the boundaries you set to keep them happy and healthy.
6. Don’t Give Children Too Much Control and Power in the Family
Do not spoil your child. If you do, they will begin to think that they are in charge, and if they want something, they should get it. That is why kids need boundaries – so that children can learn to respect authority and know their place in society.
7. Have Patience
Always show tolerance and patience when disciplining your kids. It takes time to settle a young mind and discourage bad behavior. You cannot expect your kid to change overnight if he is used to doing something his way. For example, if your child has spoken without raising her hand, don’t expect her to start the next day. It will take time to adjust, and you must let her make enough mistakes to understand the consequences of her actions.
Setting healthy boundaries for kids is a challenging but important step in child development. It is important to teach self-control and personal responsibility to our children so that they know how to deal with situations and how to be accountable for their actions as a person. Most importantly, healthy boundaries help children become happy, responsible adults with the ability to separate their past behavior from future consequences.
In Baby Steps Daycare, we help children understand the importance of healthy boundaries and give them a head start in the process of learning how to respect adults, their bodies, and other people. In our program, children learn that they are not the only person in this world who needs attention and respect from others; therefore, they develop skills that make them more responsible for their actions.