I have always believed and subscribed to the thought that firm boundaries are an important aspect of life. Setting boundaries allow us to designate where our limits are and are not to be crossed. This can apply to all areas of our life – from children, relationships (family & friends), work environment to behaviors/tolerances, respect, acceptances and everyday encounters in today’s world.
If we have outlined healthy boundaries for ourselves and our lives, it goes without saying that these boundaries will translate easily for us as parents to our children and show up significantly in their lives too. But if we have not then much consideration to incorporating firm boundaries into your family dynamics is a must (in my opinion).
Between my husband and I – I am definitely more of the one to set the boundaries for our little one. And as we know our different strengths as parents, the “laying of the land” usually falls more comfortably into my hands by default.
This has definitely been one area in our daughter’s growth and development that continues to be “tried and tested” and it has come with many deep breaths, tears, upsets and gray-hairs to say the least but we have seen some significant changes recently and for her too. What I have learned in the little 3.5-years of her life and through my own parenting approach is that in order to create an effective outcome from the boundaries that are being set, I must continue to stay conscious of my “presentation” in communicating them to her so that she learns them with as little “noise” as possible coming from me – like frustration, raising my voice, etc. I’ve found that setting the firm boundaries before the anticipated episode (vs. during the meltdowns) is more effective.
Another absolute is consistency and follow-through. Parents cannot expect their children to adhere to the boundaries if they are ever-changing or if the child is not aware of when they are breaking the boundaries. Constant communication and “teaching moments” need to be at the front and center of every parent’s mind so their children value what they are being taught.
“The Process of Laying a Limit – Laying limits firmly, yet from the heart is one of the most challenging things to do. It requires that we open our hearts to our children, deeply connecting to our own feelings and then, connecting to theirs. Once they see that we are fully present to our own authentic expression and theirs, we can lay the limit firmly, without guilt or doubt. But first we need to go within, check ourselves, ask ourselves what the limit means to us, why it is important, and then go ahead and lay it. When we do this inner work first, we are then coherent, consistent, and amply clear. Many of us lay limits willy-nilly and this is when they come back to bite us.” – Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent
How effective have you been as a parent in setting boundaries with your children? With yourself?
Have you clearly communicated with your children what those boundaries are and if not, why not, what holds you back?