Healthy Boundaries will Set Your Child Up for Success
As a parent, you’ve more than likely wondered how you can best help your children learn to make good choices in life. One way to set your children up for success is by establishing healthy boundaries at home. That way, they begin to understand the limits that exist at home and in life in general.
If your children grow up in a home where you establish healthy boundaries on a regular basis, they can learn to enforce these boundaries in their lives as well. Little by little, and almost without them realizing it, they’ll be able to make positive decisions in their lives, thinking about themselves and others.
The meaning of limits
When we talk about limits, we don’t mean obligations that children must blindly comply with because it’s their parents’ will. Nothing could be further from the truth. A boundary means a rule that people set for themselves. Limits can be physical or emotional.
If we talk about physical limits, we’re referring to when people put limitations on their body. For example, it’s explaining to a child that their body belongs to them and that and no one should violate it.
A child who grows up in a home where parents establish healthy boundaries will learn to apply those boundaries in their own life. Therefore, they’ll develop better self-control and the ability to make positive decisions.
When we refer to emotional boundaries, we’re focusing on the emotional realm, such as limits you must set to avoid things like teasing at school.
Teaching children healthy boundaries
In order for a child to learn healthy boundaries in their life, parents need to do their part to ensure that they achieve them. They need to teach these limits from the time children are young. For example, if your 4-year-old cries because they’ve been hurt, the first thing you’ll need to do is to see that they’re physically okay, and then label their feelings. This means naming the emotions they feel (sadness, frustration, anger, etc).
It’s imperative that children learn to understand their own emotions because only in this way will they be able to better understand themselves and others. You need to accept their emotions so that they feel accepted by you and reinforce their natural sense of self and boundaries.
Another example would be when a child cries because they have no sweets after dinner. You can say something like, “I understand that you’re frustrated because you wanted a treat after dinner, but now you must have fruit. On the weekend you can have treats at Lucas’ birthday.”
Here’s another example of how to help children understand boundaries so they can become successful people later in life. Imagine your child hits their sibling. You’ll need to talk to them and find out what happened. Tell them it’s okay to express anger, but there are other acceptable ways to do it, and hitting a sibling isn’t acceptable at all.
You need to be firm
You’ll need to be firm and avoid showing frustration or anger. For example, you can say something like, “It’s not okay to throw a toy at your sibling. When you throw a toy, you need to sit in a chair to think about what you did and then apologize,” and not say anything else until a few minutes have passed (the number of minutes should be appropriate to your child’s age).
When the time is up, you’ll need to talk to them and help them understand their emotions. Then move on with the day. They might not throw the toy again, but if they do, they know they can express their feelings without negative consequences if they avoid misbehavior.
When they violate healthy boundaries
It’s quite common for children to want to challenge the limits you set for them. This is normal. When this happens, think of the situation as an opportunity to explain to your children the consequences of ignoring limits. You must start by showing respect for boundaries, but also for your children at all times.
Be a good role model at all times so that your children learn to follow healthy boundaries and eventually learn to follow them not only at home, but also in their life in general. In this way, they’ll learn to make positive choices at every stage of their lives and create happier, healthier lives because of boundaries.