I’m a rules girl. Give me a good list of rules, expectations, boundaries, or a box, and I’m as happy as a camel on Wednesday.
My 9 year old son is a carbon copy of me. My 2 year old daughter…she would rather be a rules-maker than a rules-follower.
Despite the two opposing personalities, both of these kids need and want boundaries. Yes, you read that right, kids (and even teens) WANT boundaries.
Several studies have been conducted with children and fences around playgrounds. One school removed their chain-linked fence because they thought students would have more freedom without the visible barrier. The school stated that kids resented being “fenced in” and restricted to roam.
What do you think happened when the fence was removed? Their security was stripped away. The kids huddled in the middle of the playground. They didn’t venture out, and they didn’t roam free. Why? They didn’t know their limits, so they felt insecure and unsafe.
Many times in our home I can find myself becoming tired of “repairing the fence.” I get lazy. Holes creep up, boundaries are pushed, and the fence falls down. Sound familiar?
On the other hand, some parents try to give their children confidence by allowing them freedom that isn’t age-appropriate. But research shows that much like the children without a playground fence, children without limitations have no security. They lack confidence, lose sleep, do poorly in school, and have difficulty making friends.
So how do you keep the fence up by setting boundaries in your family? Here are 4 ways to set boundaries:
1) Be Firm But Loving – Set the limit and stick to it, but don’t be a bully.
Be clear that boundaries are set because you love and want to protect your
2) Be Fair and Reasonable – Choose which boundaries are the most important and
set limits that are age-appropriate. Some limits will need to be
adjusted as children grow older and are able to handle more choices or freedom.
3) Be Consistent – Training takes time. Don’t give in whenever you’re tired and
4) Be Clear – Fully explain the rules and consequences for breaking the rules. Kids
need to understand what is at stake when they make a choice.