Boundaries are indicative of who we are. They tell a story about us, they describe what we will and wont stand for. They invite people with similar morals and ethics into our lives because people know what we’re all about. Likewise, if we have no boundaries, or nothing to stand for, we will invite people into our lives of a similar calibre – those that may mean no good for us. As the saying goes: “stand for something or you will fall for anything”. Here are a few reasons that setting boundaries for your children, as trying as that may be some days, is going to make your life so much easier 🙂
1. Boundaries help children feel secure
Boundaries set by the parents, that is, and not negotiated by children. When boundaries regarding bed time, meal times, homework times and screen times etc are in place, children feel safer due to the predictability they create. Take away this predictability and you’re likely to see an increase in childhood anxiety.
2. Neutralise narcissism and self-entitlement
It is normal for children to have a certain amount of narcissism. They are born this way. Your newborn baby is not too bothered if you haven’t slept in three days, he’s hungry and you must provide! But this should not continue into their adult lives. For many families nowadays, children’s demands and emotions can disrupt the household from sunrise to sunset. It is important for our children to understand that they cannot always get their own way, that limits exist and that there needs to be a consideration for people around them. This starts off in the home and will carry through to school, varsity and working environments. Parents who allow their children free reign sometimes realise too late that this type of freedom is not in their own or their child’s best interests. For more on the narcissistic child, read Look at Me! Dealing with Narcissistic Teens
3. Teach tolerance and respect
Children who experience healthy boundaries learn how to deal with frustration better than their boundary-less counterparts. Frustration is a part of daily life, learning how to tolerate frustration is an admirable characteristic that a lot of adults don’t even possess. Once children have learnt to respect their own parents’ boundaries, they are more likely to respect the boundaries of others, making the transition into the working world a much smoother experience for them.
4. Encourage self-esteem
It is through the boundaries set by their parents that children also learn to be disciplined in setting boundaries for themselves. This in turn helps them to realise their strengths and achieve their goals, establishing a healthy self-esteem. Still feeling bad about saying “no” to the whines begging to stay up late on a school night, “just this once”? Read on…
5. Cultivate happiness
Research has shown that children who have been given clear parental guidelines and freedom WITHIN those guidelines are happier people. These children possess the attributes that come from parents setting healthy limits for children, namely self-esteem, tolerance of frustration, respect for others, self-discipline etc.
Think of boundaries as being the equivalent of the lines on a tennis court. Can you imagine a tennis match with no lines? Every player would be throwing tantrums a la John McEnroe. Just like tennis players need to know what is in bounds, and what is out of bounds, so do your children. With clear boundaries, everyone knows what is expected of them, and where they can and cannot play.
Children are going to push the limits, and once your boundaries are in place they will challenge them – of this I couldn’t be more certain! It is our plight to stick to our guidelines, and be consistent. Sometimes this isn’t easy. Coming home from a tiring day at work and negotiating with a strong-willed child is not my idea of fun, and this is where a lot of us give in for the sake of peace. Just remember that boundaries are there for the benefit, not the detriment, of our children. Hey, no one said it would be easy, but they did say it would be worth it 🙂
Have any ideas or secrets in establishing healthy boundaries in your home? Please share them with me, on the blog or on social media.