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How To Teach Your Children To Set Boundaries

Rules are great, especially when you have young kids, but as they grow older, you have to step beyond just putting controls in place, you have to teach your children to set boundaries.

Kids will need to understand how to set boundaries and also respect the boundaries of others, and they should be able to express what they want clearly.

Setting boundaries helps build healthy relationships, and learning these skills can help with future relationships, and this will require kids to be emphatic.

As parents, just the thought of teaching kids who can’t tie their shoelaces or even correctly brush their teeth to be emphatic may sound ridiculous, and the kids might not even understand the whole idea.

Still, you have to build the awareness of people around them slowly. You can set physical, material, emotional, and mental boundaries.

The quality of boundaries is also important and parents need to be able to identify the traits of unhealthy boundaries and aim to teach their kids healthy boundaries.

Boundaries can be rigid, porous, or healthy.

Steps on how to teach your children to set boundaries

Here is how we can get started with teaching our kids this.

Practice makes it easy

One of the best ways to teach a child is to repeat the process over and over again.

Helping your children practice their response to people who don’t respect their boundaries will build the confidence they need to stand up for themselves. 

If someone continuously disrespects their boundaries, it is important they let them know all the time that it is not ok.

You can get your kids to interact with others who are different from them to also help them practice the boundary game. Starting early to practice is very necessary 

Consistency is key

Staying consistent with practicing with your kids and teaching them the correct response to others helps the lessons stick and they can become more conscious of when their boundaries are being disrespected and when they are also crossing the lines set by others.

Another thing you can be consistent with, is being open about how you feel when the boundaries of others are not respected and they are made the victim instead of getting justice.

So, whether it’s a media publication or conversations around you, you have to be consistent in making your stand known to your children. 

Avoid information overload

Having the right information before setting out on this journey.

The information might be ambiguous but there is a need to simplify the information and break it down using languages that can be easily grasped at the different ages of the child.

Do not shy away from having these conversations because if you do, they will get the information from others sources that might be harmful or inaccurate.

This can get them to be more comfortable with talking especially when it comes to physical boundaries that border around their bodies and sexuality.

You can also engage kids with the right media. Books, videos, and other appropriate videos can teach consent and respect boundaries.

Respect their limits

Children should be allowed the freedom of who to be affectionate with and when they want to.

Avoid pushing them to be affectionate when they aren’t comfortable, and respect their limits.

Adults tend to dismiss the boundaries of children, be intentional about listening to their concerns and validate them.

If a child refuses to give a family member a hug or kiss, they shouldn’t be coerced to do it.

This will destroy the process of building confidence and validating their decisions too.

Let them know that safe adults listen to what they want or need and not make them uncomfortable or scared.

Model the behavior

As a parent, you should practice asking permission before touching your kids. Before you reach out for a hug from any child around you, you should seek their consent. Simple explanations help to reinforce the concept of communication.

Kids naturally look up to their parents and pick up behavioral traits from them. Hence, they demonstrate the kind of behavior you want your kids to emulate and practice what you preach.

As you do this, it is important to also take stock. Also, assess yourself to see how you are doing with personal boundaries.

You can do things like knock before entering their room. Always ask permission to undress them or take part in their snack or meal. These little things easily communicate boundaries and they will do the same to others.

“No” is a valid answer

Every child needs to learn the skill of saying ‘NO’.

Saying ‘NO’ can be uncomfortable and will need some getting used to.

They ought to also realize the ‘NO’ of others should also be respected and help them build emotional intelligence.

While practicing this skill, conversations should follow on how to react when on the receiving end of ‘NO’. In order to get better insight, they need to see and understand the situation from the opposite viewpoint.

Read Also: Teaching Your Children Personal Hygiene

Rounding up

I’m certain the steps on how to teach your children to set boundaries were useful.

Boundary setting is an important skill for everyone to learn for a healthy, lasting relationship.

With love and support, your kids will be able to maintain their personal boundaries. They will also learn how to stand for themselves.

Sometimes they might still want an adult to help out. When this happens, you can encourage them to always reach out when they need help.

As you start off this exercise, remember each child is unique and will grasp at their pace.

Do not be discouraged when you experience this.

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