Kids will never tell you that they want or need boundaries so it’s important to learn How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Kids.
In fact, they’re more likely to push against any boundaries you create with all their might.
However, putting up boundaries does a world of good for them and you.
What benefits do boundaries serve? To begin with, they highlight your role as a loving, compassionate parent.
Children need to know that someone is in charge aside from them.
We’ve all heard horror stories of youngsters who had to “play the role” of mom or dad.
Normally, this leaves them dealing with emotional difficulties later in life.
Establishing boundaries stops this from happening.
Secondly, boundaries offer serious safety protections.
For instance, you probably have made it clear to your kids that they shouldn’t run in the street.
This is to keep them safe. Other boundaries, including expecting older children to wear face masks or social distance, are just as critical.
These boundaries serve a social relations purpose, too.
Third, boundaries help you establish your preferred culture within your home. (Hopefully it’s a culture everyone adores!) Saying that your children have to sit down for the family dinner most nights sets a precedent.
Over time, your home will develop a particular “vibe.” Kids remember the way it felt to be in their house growing up.
You want those memories to be ones that are strong for all the right reasons!
Didn’t set boundaries when your kids were toddlers?
Even if your children are a little older, you can always begin to put boundaries in place.
It’s never too late to start getting the advantages of having boundaries.
With that being said, you want to make sure you set up boundaries with some proven tips in mind.
Are you dealing with a stubborn Toddler?
Boundaries need to be age-appropriate
You wouldn’t tell a teenager with a driver’s license that the teen isn’t allowed to drive a car alone until she’s out of the house.
That wouldn’t make sense, given that you were fine with her getting a driver’s license.
At the same time, you shouldn’t allow a 13-year-old to drive your car for even a minute in an empty parking lot.
In other words, the boundaries you set need to be age-appropriate for each child and situation.
Perhaps you have a kindergartener and a seventh grader.
They both keep begging you for phones of their own.
You flat out refuse the younger one because he doesn’t need one.
But the older one is involved in tons of sports and extracurricular activities.
Truly, she could use a phone to stay in touch with you.
Yet that doesn’t mean you have to completely let down your boundaries.
Instead, you could purchase a kids’ phone without Internet access for your older child.
This would allow you to safely stay in contact with your child without allowing your seventh grader unfettered online access.
As noted by Gabb Wireless, “Kids do not have the wisdom that comes from decades of life experience.”
You’re still maintaining healthy boundaries by giving the smartphone.
At the same time, you’re not taking away all parameters at once.
Boundaries have to be held up consistently
“You can’t spend the night at a friend’s house until you’re 10 years old.”
That’s your rule.
It’s been your rule for several years.
Then your middle child, who is eight, gets invited to an overnight party.
You like your eight-year-old, who exhibits extreme maturity.
You like the child’s family members who are hosting the party.
And you’re tempted to make an exception.
Obviously, your choice is your choice as a parent.
Still, before committing to an answer, remember that even a single exception can turn into a slippery slope.
For example, if you have younger children, they’ll see your waffling as a reason to push at all their boundaries.
And your older kids who couldn’t spend the night with friends until they were 10 years old?
They’ll probably start pushing boundaries, too.
Without extreme consistency, boundaries won’t work.
So can you allow “rule breaking” every once in a while?
Maybe, as long as the occasion is truly rare or the case is special.
Boundaries shouldn’t be arbitrary
Kids always like to ask “Why?” And you can be certain that every child will ask about some of the boundaries you set up.
Therefore, you should always have a good answer ready to go.
If you don’t know why a boundary is important, why should your children follow it?
For a long time, parents relied on the tried-and-true response: “Because I said so.”
This doesn’t work anymore, as mentioned in a Medium article that calls the phrase a conversation-ender.
Kids appreciate hearing the reasoning behind boundaries.
They might not agree with the reasoning, of course, but they can’t deny that you believe what you’re saying.
Knowing the “Why?” behind every boundary is good for you, too.
It helps you solidify what you care about most when it comes to your family.
Perhaps you make a rule that no one can watch TV in the morning before school.
The rule isn’t that you don’t like TV.
It’s that you want the early morning to be a chance for the family to connect before a hectic workday.
Boundaries and consistent discipline have to go hand-in-hand
It’s one thing to construct rules and boundaries for your kiddos.
It’s another thing to figure out what to do when those boundaries are broken. (Yes, it will happen. You can bet your bottom dollar on it.)
In other words, what type of discipline makes sense?
And are you willing to stick with the disciplinary measure?
Here’s a good example.
Maybe you have a strict policy of no laptops in your kids’ bedrooms because you want to monitor Internet use.
You find out your 12-year-old has been sneaking the laptop upstairs late at night and gaming online for hours.
Originally, you told your daughter she’d be grounded for a month if you caught her with the laptop in her bedroom.
Unfortunately, you don’t want to ground her anymore because it would be highly inconvenient.
After all, she has dance class a couple times a week after school.
And she’s a soccer star on the team with games on the weekend.
Nevertheless, if you minimize her discipline, you’ll send the wrong message.
This is one of those times when discipline may be tough to keep up, but would be important.
Above all else, have patience when you start setting boundaries.
The process isn’t straightforward, and it can seem rocky at times to enforce some boundaries.
Nevertheless, it’s worth all the headaches to show you “heart” your kids.