Boundaries. The word sounds so decisive, so firm. I’ve always struggled to make decisions and I definitely not the most decisive person. So when our kids got into the “terrible twos” and phases of pushing back it was decision time.
Was I going to set firm boundaries (lines, divisions, etc.) with our kids or was I going to wing it?
My husband and I decided it was time to get serious! Boundaries are so important and we have to teach our children the value of them. Boundaries shape their character, their ability to respect authority and their ability to say no.
When we decided to crack down and started setting clear boundaries we noticed a huge difference in our kids behavior. They actually listened and they didn’t hate us for saying no!
If you are struggling to get your child to cooperate and listen the first time, keep reading. Setting boundaries with your kids can change the atmosphere of your home.
How to Teach Your Kids Boundaries
So if this is so important, how do we teach our kids boundaries?
First, know your own boundaries.
What is important to you and your family? What do you want your kids to learn? Can you define your limits, exceptions, deal breakers?
How about patience? How do you expect your kids to behave when they have to wait? Do you know how to instruct and teach your kids without feeling guilty?
The list could go on. These are just a few questions to get started. This process will take time, but I encourage you to think and pray about this!
This post may contain affiliate links for products we love.
Overall, what characteristics are important to impart into your children? Are you and your spouse on the same page with this?
After you clearly define the boundaries you want to have in your family (see a few examples below), it will be easier to set them with your kids.
Examples of boundaries in parenting:
At the dinner table we respect each other. One person talks at a time and we spend time learning about each other. We all sit down together and we don’t leave the table until everyone is finished.
During the hours of 1-2 PM mommy needs alone time. You can either nap, play or sing your room, but you must stay in your room. Unless of course it’s an emergency or you need help using the potty, etc.
Everyone sleeps in their own room at night. If you have a bad dream, you can come into mommy and daddy’s room for 5 minutes. After a few minutes, we will tuck you back in bed and say a prayer with you.
If your child pushes one of these boundaries, you already know the expectation. So it’s easier to enforce. Sticking to your rules and enforcing boundaries is a whole other topic!
Second, we must model appropriate boundaries.
If we want our children to respect one another we must model this to them. We are their first role models.
So, we must learn to define, set and enforce boundaries in our own lives. If you need help doing this, I HIGHLY recommend the book Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In the description on Amazon, it states:
“If you’ve ever wondered: Can I set limits and still be a loving person? How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? Why do I feel guilty when I consider setting boundaries?”
I have to be honest and say I don’t like when my kids are mad at me. I feel terrible and it feels uncomfortable. So this was a difficult part of boundary setting for me. But when I realized it actually changed their behavior for the good and they still loved me, I knew it was worth the few minutes of discomfort.
Lastly, it will take time and perseverance.
The other day my daughter really wanted to tell me something. I was talking with my husband and she kept interrupting. When finally she said “DADDY STOP TALKING.”
That was the final straw for my husband. He had enough and a boundary needed to be set. He calmly told our daughter “Izzy, this is not appropriate. What you have to say is important, but I am talking to mommy right now. You need to wait until I am done talking. Then you can have mommy’s full attention.”
Of course our daughter didn’t love his reaction. She was upset at first (mostly because she knew she was in trouble), but it was a valuable lesson. My husband didn’t like upsetting her either. But he knew in the long run she needed to learn compassion and patience in this situation.
Setting boundaries won’t always be easy and your kids may not like it! But does that mean you should stop? Definitely not.
When you set an enforceable limit (what are enforceable limits? See here) or boundary, it may take your child a few times to fully comprehend this. Don’t give up. Keep at it and you will see a breakthrough.
So how do you set boundaries as a parent?
Is it difficult to set boundaries with your kids? What works best for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!