You’re at the park with your kids on a busy day. Dozens of kids are running around. Screams fill the area, interspersed with moms yelling, “No!” and “Don’t do that!”
One little girl is running around, pushing other kids to get to the front of the line for the slide and just being pushy in general.
Her mother, chatting with a friend or clicking on her mobile phone, looks up, smiles, and ignores the behavior.
Another mother notices her child feeling insecure with a potential situation and immediately goes into defence mode and chases the other child way… Scene sound somewhat familiar?
Some kids have no boundaries, which can result in them becoming lost and uncontrollable, and some have such tight boundaries that they have no chance to make mistakes or to explore. Kids on both ends of the spectrum are going to have trouble as they grow up.
All kids need boundaries. Boundaries help children learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and boundaries help them feel safe. Most kids actually crave boundaries, which equate to parental guidance, and boundaries help children explore their individuality.
The question is: How do you set boundaries for your children that will ensure they remain respectful and safe while also allowing them to grow and to explore the world around them? All parents have their own ideas of what works best and they do what’s best based on what works with their particular children. However, here are a few concepts to keep in mind when setting boundaries for your children.
Know the stages of child development
Boundaries that work for a three-year-old aren’t going to work for a five-year-old and so on. Learn what to expect from each stage of development, so you know how to best approach creating boundaries. A one-year-old, for example, isn’t going to understand you telling her, “No, you can’t put that in your mouth. It is dangerous” like a four-year-old will. A timeout in a chair also isn’t likely to work with a teenager like it will with a toddler or a younger child.
You’ve probably heard the old cliché: rules are made to be broken. Sometimes they are. Your kids will definitely challenge your rules, and sometimes you will need to be flexible with the rules. First you have to have rules to be challenged. Rules can be as simple as no television before bed, put all clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day, and so on.
Kids need consistency when it comes to boundaries. You cannot set a boundary then change it the next day or the day after that. For instance, don’t set a house rule that there’s no playing with tablets in bed then let your child play with it in bed sometimes but not others. You’re just going to end up with frustrated, confused, and unhappy kids. Be as consistent as possible with your children.
If you say something, follow through. For example, maybe you told your young daughter to stop yelling while you were having dinner at a restaurant. “Please stop yelling, or no television tonight.” She continues yelling. Later in the evening, when she asks to watch television, remind her of what happened at the restaurant. Giving in and allowing her to watch television, after you warned her and she disobeyed you, will only show her that you don’t keep your word and, maybe with some crying and screaming, she can get what she wants.
Offer your child choices
Kids need the opportunity to grow and to explore. Offering your children choices allows them to do just that. For example, maybe you are taking your child out for the day to do something fun. Don’t ask her what she wants to do, which could lead to all kinds of answers and drama, especially if you have to say no. Instead, allow your child to choose from a few options. She will feel valued and have the opportunity to think for herself at the same time.
Be firm and kind
Kids will be kids. They’re going to rebel sometimes and to question your authority. That’s normal, and it’s okay. It shows that your child has a mind of his own and is not afraid to question authority, esp
ecially if he thinks something is wrong. Although all parents become frustrated, try to be firm but kind whe
n dealing with your children.
Help your children embrace the boundaries you’ve set for them. The Mouse Cage takes children on a fun journey that teaches them about having fun and exploring the world around them while staying within reasonable boundaries. The boundaries are always consistent, enforced and the result is fun, games and positive parenting.