Updated: Sep 6
It may seem like the minute children are born, they are wired to test the boundaries. Most power struggles with children or teens are related to them wanting to test the waters of independence, and trying to gain a little taste of freedom. Setting firm, consistent and predictable boundaries from the get-go is probably one of the most important decisions parents will make on their parenting journey. As children grow and mature and begin to test the boundaries their parents have set for them, little by little they are forming their own self-awareness. Individuals with a strong sense of self ultimately make and keep healthier relationships, develop dependable coping skills, and feel more confident in making decisions.
People who do not respect boundaries tend to struggle with impulse control, gaining trust from friends and family, prioritizing wants over needs, as well as setting and attaining personal goals. Ultimately, individuals who respect boundaries learn to respect themselves as well as others both personally and professionally. They go into adult life with a connected responsibility to their greater community.
There are five easy steps to keep in mind when establishing boundaries with your toddler, adolescent, or teenage children:
Be an honest communicator. Say it and mean it. Stay away from empty threats.
Create consistent expectations. Don’t draw a line in the sand, and then erase it when it’s convenient. Be predictable.
Let your kids struggle, don’t try and fix or rescue them from their own bad decisions or big emotions. Help them experience accountability for their actions.
Keep your expectations and explanations short and sweet. When it comes to words and advice … less is always more.
Make sure your words are firm and not cold. Your tone matters. No need to be harsh or mean.
Setting healthy and consistent boundaries will help create a safe and predictable environment for children to experience some independence. When they know what to expect, they can feel confident to try new things and make their own decisions. They will learn to trust you and ultimately trust themselves, paving the road to independence.