Webster’s New World Dictionary defines boundary as anything marking a limit. When we think of setting boundaries for our children, we often think of the limits we want to allow our children.
Children want to know what their boundaries are. When your little one begins walking, usually you put up gates in the house for the areas you don’t want your toddler to go (i.e. stairs, kitchen). As your child grows you set new boundaries for them. Maybe you fence in the backyard and tell your child that they can only play in the backyard. You might only want them to watch certain shows on television. Many parents have already set boundaries for each year of their child’s life, before they even get to that year.
The important thing about setting boundaries is that they should be thought out, realistic, and you as the parent should be willing to adapt. Remember the boundaries your parents set for you? They might not work for your
children. Although, I do believe that many of the boundaries I had as a child are still workable today. Sometimes some boundaries we set for our
children might not work. That’s when we need to consider why they’re not working and adjust them accordingly.
For instance, you wouldn’t set the same bedtime for your preschooler as you would for your preteen. Nor would you expect your preteen to only be allowed to play in the backyard. Be careful with the boundaries you set, especially for your older children. Try to be fair and appropriate with the boundaries you set for your children. Talk with your children and explain the why behind the boundaries you have set. Don’t just give the lame answer “because I said so”. Children are people too and they need to understand the why behind everything.
This does not mean that your child has control, it simply means that you are setting an example of how things are done and why. Your younger child needs boundaries so that they are aware of what or where they can go. The same applies to your older child, but including your older child in the decision making process is often a good idea. As they grow, they need to feel apart of the decision making process on the rules they are expected to follow. You will find that it often makes it easier on you, as the parent, when you involve your older child in the important decisions on what the boundaries are within your family. It also sets a good example to your children on how a family works.
Too many parents forget what it was like to be a child and how they felt that they had no say in their lives. When you include your older children in the decision making process, you gain their respect and give them opportunities to prove themselves. Our children are children for a short time and suddenly they are grown ups. Provide your children with good, fair boundaries and they will grow into responsible parents one day.
Remember to set realistic boundaries that your children can easily understand.