By: Vickie | Updated: 26th June 2023
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Having a healthy parent-child relationship is never easy. While we want to be our child’s friend we also have to teach them right from wrong and how to be responsible adults when they leave home. To do this we have to set boundaries with our kids and stick to these boundaries.
Not only do we help guide our children through life by setting reasonable and healthy boundaries we are teaching them that it is only to say no and set boundaries in life which can be vital to adulthood.
Why you need to set boundaries with your kids
Setting boundaries for your child is vital for their health and safety. While it can be hard to set boundaries, particularly with older kids and teens that naturally tend to test boundaries, it is your job to protect your children.
Setting clear rules and consequences for your kids helps them keep on track.
While it may feel a bit controlling from time to time setting boundaries like going to bed at a decent time on school nights, or being home before dark, help to protect your child and keep them healthy and able to work hard towards their goals.
Kids without sufficient boundaries as a child can often struggle with boundaries as an adult.
Teaching your child about boundaries helps them learn not only to respect others’ boundaries in life but to set boundaries of their own for both themselves and how other people treat them.
How to set boundaries
Setting boundaries when you want to be a gentle or fun parent can be a challenge. You can set general but important boundaries without breaking your parent-child relationship and the boundaries are important to the overall health of your parent-child relationship. Here are a few ways to help work towards setting healthy boundaries for your child.
Talk about right and wrong
The most basic boundaries we need to set for our kids are right and wrong. When setting boundaries that are based on if something is right or wrong, talk to your child about this.
It is wrong to hit siblings or break other people’s stuff when you are angry. It is right to talk about your issues with someone and work things out.
Kids are capable of understanding right and wrong and when we explain our boundaries in the way it is easier for kids to understand why we set the boundaries we do.
Set logical and safe boundaries
Some boundaries are more about safety than right and wrong. These boundaries are perhaps even more important to set with your child.
These boundaries include things like Leaving GPS on their phones when out on their own, being home before dark, or not cooking when no one else is home in case of a fire starting.
This is a great place to start with healthy boundaries for kids because they can understand that some things in life are dangerous but often kids struggle to pinpoint exactly what is so dangerous.
When we give them boundaries for their safety they can begin to see dangers for what they are and begin to make healthy choices for their own safety.
Be firm with boundaries you set
When you set a boundary for your child you need to stay consistent with it. It can be so easy to set a simple rule like no screen time until after chores are done because everyone needs to do their part in the home and then let it go when you are tired.
If you are not firm and constant with boundaries your child will struggle to see why they should respect any boundaries you have set which can lead to a very unhealthy relationship between you and your child.
How to enforce boundaries
Be constant – Yet again you need to stick with and enforce the boundaries you have set over and over again not giving in when your child pushes back or you are too tired to enforce the rules.
Tell your child what the rules are – Before you punish your child take a moment to think about if you have actually talked to your child about the rule or if this is a new one you are setting.
While you may need to punish your child for some things such as dangerous choices or things that should have been logical, even if you have never discussed them you still need to talk to your child about why you are setting this new boundary and why you are punishing them. For minor things simply have a talk about the new boundary with your child and forgo punishment.
Set consequences that fit the action – When your child breaks a rule be reasonable with punishments. Calm yourself down before dishing out consequences particularly if the rule doesn’t already have set consequences.
Do not give your child a large punishment for something small simply because you dished it out in anger as this can make your punishments seem unfair and often go ignored. The more closely related the consequence to the rule broken the better.
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