How do I decide when to set a boundary with my child?

On one hand you want your child to explore her environment through play and you want your child to express herself. But on the other hand, you know that there must be some sort of boundary in place to help guide your child.

You might be confused as to how to decide when to draw a boundary. Here are 4 guidelines to help you get a clearer picture on when to draw a boundary.

1. Physical safety

Physical safety is definitely the first thing you want to consider when drawing a boundary. Asking yourself “Is this safe for my child?” or “Might anybody get hurt here?” Can be a good guide to help you decide on whether or not to draw a boundary in a certain situations.

Some examples of boundaries that need to be drawn concerning physical safety include:

– Your child kicking/pushing/hitting or physically hurting another child or adult.

– Being in a car seat

– Running down the stairs

– Your toddler running across the road on their own

– Your toddler poking a dog that clearly looks uncomfortable

– Climbing an unstable shelf

2. Health and cleanliness

Another crucial boundary that needs to be set is around health and cleanliness. These are instances where it affects your child’s physical health, mental health and hygiene.

Some examples of boundaries that can be drawn concerning health and cleanliness include:

– The number of hours on screen time

– The kinds of content being consumed on screens

– Showering

– Brushing teeth

– Putting dirt in their mouth

– Over consumption of sugary foods

– Diaper change

3. Respect for others

We want children to know that they are living alongside other people and that might have other needs and wants other than them. We teach children to be respectful to the needs of others by drawing boundaries around a respect for others.

This is not so straight forward and depends on the situation but here are some instances to consider.

– Littering

– Drawing on the walls

– Others’ bodily consent

– Destroying items or furniture

– Yelling loudly inside the house during play when someone is working

4. Your personal boundaries

This one depends on your own personal boundaries and tolerance around certain situations. It is not selfish to communicate your personal boundaries to your child by setting limits around them. Instead, it teaches your child to respect your boundaries and know you better.

Here are some examples of some personal boundaries you might have. Remember these may not apply to you but you can reflect on your own values and boundaries and think about those.

– You don’t want your toddler jumping/climbing on you

– You don’t want to sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ for the 10th time

– Your own tolerance of mess

– You want to finish your food while it’s hot before you answer your child’s request to read to her

So there you go, 4 simple guidelines to help you get clearer on when to draw a boundary or set a limit.

Remember, boundary setting is a loving act. It helps your child know where they fit in the world and free us from resentment. Win-win!

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