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I have been working hard over the last couple of years to set healthy boundaries for myself. I’ve learned that “no” is a complete sentence, and I don’t have to do things I don’t want to.
Setting healthy boundaries with our children is just as important as setting boundaries for ourselves. It just looks a little different for our kids. We don’t want our kids not doing what we ask just because they don’t want to!
It’s important for our kids to know who’s in charge. When you set healthy boundaries, it helps them figure this out.
Boundaries tell children what is expected of them and help them focus on the task at hand.
They also teach kids to respect themselves and others. Here are 5 easy tips to teach your child about boundaries and an easy activity to bring it to light.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries so Your Children Will Listen
Keep It Simple
Boundaries are about setting rules. When it comes to kids and rules, less is more – especially when your kids are younger. Your child is more likely to follow five simple rules than 20 they can’t remember.
Prioritizing can really help keep things simple. If you end up with more than five simple rules, pick the five you feel are the most important for your child to follow.
One simple way to explain what their boundaries are is by reading educational books. Jayneen Sanders offers a great easy-to-read book called “No Means No!” Children learn what boundaries are in a simple way. Plus you get more reading time with your little one!
Establishing trust is all about leading by example and being consistent in applying rules.
When a child realizes a certain positive behavior will occur every time they follow the rules, they will start following the rules without being reminded. But it’s really important they see you following the rules too.
For example, one of your rules might be that your child must put away everything from one activity before you start the next. You must set an example for them and pick up after yourself before you start a new activity.
Words without actions are just words. It’s essential that, as much as possible, you always do what you say you’re going to do in order to build trust with your child.
Set Clear Expectations
Your child needs to know what is expected of them. It’s important to explain the rules and what happens when they do and don’t follow the rules.
If your child is young, remember tip #1 (keep it simple) and start by only explaining one rule at a time. Once they understand that rule, you can move on to the next one.
It’s not only important that you are consistent with your child, but it’s also important that your husband, and anyone else that spends a lot of time with your child, is too. This goes along with setting clear expectations.
Ideally, your child should expect the same outcome when they follow the rules regardless of who is caring for them at that time. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out this way.
You can’t control what other people do, but it’s still a good idea to let them know what boundaries you’ve set for your child.
This one can be tough. Nobody likes to have to enforce negative consequences, like not reading books because your child didn’t clean up the cars they were playing with.
However, it’s important not to give in to your child if you want to encourage a way to set healthy boundaries. By giving in, they will begin to think that they are the ones in charge and start testing you to find out what else they can get away with.
Still having trouble setting boundaries? Check out the activity below and read Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend’s book “Boundaries with Kids.”
It is such an informative book for all parents to get inside their child’s head to allow them to raise the child you know they can be.
Token Board Activity
One thing that has helped my son tremendously with boundaries is a token board. The reason it works so well is that it incorporates all five of the above keys to set healthy boundaries.
Here’s how it works:
A token board helps parents keep the boundary setting process simple. Your child earns tokens that can be traded for a bigger reward such as a special treat.
You earn your child’s trust by making sure you give them a token every time they complete the desired behavior such as cleaning up their toys.
As the parent, it’s important that you control the reward. You tell them what they can earn with their tokens.
The more your child performs the desired behavior(s), they begin to internalize the reward (it feels good to complete the behavior). Eventually, they will outgrow the token board.
I’ve included a free download for a simple token board you can use with your child. Here’s to your parenting success!
Meet Guest Blogger Josie
Josie is the author of the blog The Mom Bomb Lounge. With a master’s degree in education and a background in Reiki, Josie Myers is an expert teacher and healer. After making her own journey back from a dark depressive place, Josie understands the importance healing plays in allowing women to shine their inner light and truly live the life they desire.
Josie credits Chakra healing with saving her life and she enjoys incorporating BEAM, Chakra cards, Reiki, crystals, yoga, and journaling into her intuitive healing practice. Josie lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son, and cats Russell and Carabella.
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