Spencer Health

Setting Boundaries for Life

Any parent knows that children can test us, and when we say test us – we mean push you to your absolute limits! If only life provided you with a user manual when a child comes along into your life!

Unfortunately, we aren’t blessed with that option, so most of us will muddle our way through parenthood with all its ups and downs.

When it comes to children who do challenge us and push the boundaries, there are a few simple tips that we can pass on to help navigate the stormy patch. Let’s talk boundaries.

Why do we need boundaries you say?

Boundaries are not just there for keeping calm and balance, they also play a key role in helping develop your child’s emotional intelligence as they mature.

Limits and boundaries are guardrails that help guide your child on the right path through life. Without guardrails children can easily slip into a world of self-entitlement and ill-discipline.

Rules and boundaries help children understand that they won’t always get what they want and develop skills on how to manage that.

Three tips to help set successful boundaries

Get the whole family involved

It’s vital that boundaries and rules are consistent throughout the family – and yes, that means you as a parent! Consistency will help set the family expectations on a set of behaviours that are deemed acceptable.

Call a family or parent-child meeting, sit down in a place where all parties can have an equal voice and keep the conversation calm and controlled.

This should be a relaxed space where you can explain rules and why they are enforced, and equally gives your child a chance to discuss and understand why the rules are put in place. This is also a chance for you to set consequences for certain rules are not followed. You are far more likely to get buy-in when boundaries are set as a team.

Stick to your guns!

If you have set boundaries and explained expectations and consequences, it’s vital you follow through with them. If a child can ‘get away with murder’ they are going to consistently push those rules as they know they can get away with it.

We know it can be emotionally hard to ‘punish’, whether this be taking away a toy or restricting access to your child’s favourite activities, but this is a vital part of the equation.

This won’t come easy to many, and it can make us feel like a mean parent, but part of parenting is these hard and challenging parts!

A good tip is when you have enforced the consequences, give yourself some time out too – a quiet cup of coffee away from the stress. You can do it!

Patience is key

We see time and time again, parents have all the best intentions to get the rules right and hope that everything will flow on from there – however, nothing it ever perfect!

Children do take time to adapt to change, as do parents. It’s ok if behaviours take time to change or you are all struggling to adapt. The key message to remember is consistency and patience will help immeasurably.

You can’t expect kids to get it perfect straight away, practice makes perfect and be kind to yourself and realise everyone will need a few attemps before getting it right.

Children don’t mean to be naughty or stressful, it’s often very unintentional. However, you as the parent need to be the one that install those guardrails that can develop a positive and respectful children.

If you find you are struggling with developing and enforcing those rules, the team at Spencer Health have a huge amount of experience in supporting families develop and flourish. Get in touch  with our team here to find the right professional for you.