Teaching Healthy Boundaries to Your Kids
Even when your children are quite small, it’s important to begin instructing them about boundaries between themselves and others. A child who grows up in a home having healthy limits will also learn to apply such boundaries in his own life.
What Does “Boundary” mean?
A boundary signifies a limit that a person has. Such limits can be physical or emotional.
1. Physical boundaries. This limit can be physical and tangible, like one’s own body parts. Explaining to a child that their body belongs only to them and nobody else teaches them to develop a sense of their physical self. Explaining, “Daddy’s body belongs to him” and “Your body belongs to you” is a good place to start.
2. Emotional boundaries. Another type of boundary is more emotional than physical. Teaching children that it’s not okay to say hurtful things to others is an example of an emotional boundary. The teasing would be another way of crossing a person’s emotional boundary.
In a sense, boundaries are rules that you live by. Living with boundaries basically means, “I won’t do anything to harm you” and “I expect you not to do anything to harm me, but if you do, I’ll let you know.”
When you’re raising kids to have healthy boundaries, it’s important to allow them to express their own feelings. This one can be pretty tough for some parents as it isn’t unusual for parents to squelch a child’s healthy behavioral expression.
For example, if a 4-year-old starts crying and stomps his feet, what would you do as a parent? One healthy strategy to ensure your 4-year-old develops healthy boundaries is to help him/her label their feelings. Say something like, “I see that you’re frustrated that you can’t have the candy right now. Maybe you can have some candy after dinner.” Then, move on with life.
You helped them to label their emotions. You chose not to punish him or demand that he stop crying or “Straighten up right now.” As a pare