Setting boundaries is one of the key elements in having a peaceful home. The earlier you start setting those boundaries the better.
In the beginning your baby’s needs, (i.e. when they are hungry, tired or need a diaper change), determine your schedule and every second of your life. Slowly moving toward a feeding/napping routine for your child can be the start of setting these boundaries. By being consistent in your actions and setting limits, you can begin to shape your child’s expectations and understanding of how you will interact with them.
Think about the behaviors you are reinforcing, are they positive or negative? (Want even more info on positive reinforcement? check out, The Power of Positive Reinforcement.)
Are you reinforcing undesirable behavior?
A good example of this pattern, that I often see with coaching clients, is the challenge of getting a child to sleep through the night. There is no doubt that this can be a painful, tiring process. Any parent that hears his or her child crying wants to soothe their baby. The trick is to do this in a way that doesn’t result in creating expectations for your child that are dependent on actions you do not want to continue to carry out – like missing sleep!
Consistently going into the room and giving your child a bottle, picking them up or rocking them back to sleep, (of course depending on age) creates a strong expectation for your child that when they cry you will come and fulfill their needs. Action (child crying) + reaction (parent fulfilling need) = reward (reinforcement of behavior).
It’s so important to teach your little one how to self soothe. This is the building blocks for a child to grow into a self-sufficient, respectful, caring individual with a strong sense of emotional awareness.
Setting boundaries is truly providing bumper pads for your child’s entire life. Often, parents feel it’s easier to just give in at the moment than deal with the crying o whining. Try and remember the bigger picture. Think about what kind of teenager you are creating. Encourage them to use their words to communicate their needs.
The key to setting boundaries
The key to setting boundaries is to stop being reactive in the moment and to start being mindful of how you are speaking. It’s important to be first be calm then be firm and direct. No drill sergeant’s allowed. Be authoritative in your parenting, listen to your children and allow for discussion. Be consistent and fair in your actions while placing limits, consequences and expectations on their behavior.
In doing this your children will intrinsically understand where the boundaries are and there will no longer be a constant battle to be in control of your own home. Once again you will be able to breathe, finding overall, you have more meaningful interactions with each other.
Harmonious Households Top 10 Tips for setting boundaries:
1. Work with your spouse/significant other as a united front.
2. Stop and take a breath before reacting. Be mindful of your response.
3. Come down to your child’s level (literally).
4. Be consistent; don’t be a pushover.
5. Be firm and direct, not angry or emotional.
6. Starting in toddlerhood offer choices, For example, “You can put on your shoes, or I’ll put them on for you, you choose”.
7. Put a time limit on things. Counting to 3 works like a charm!
8. Allow for discussion as your children get older, don’t act as if, “It’s my way or the highway.”
9. Remember that children may push boundaries but that they thrive in an environment that has boundaries.
10. Most importantly, remind yourself that your little one’s will not hate you because you set boundaries. Let go of that guilt!
NOT setting boundaries causes more harm than setting them.
What tips have I left out? Please comment below to add yours to the list!
– If setting boundaries is something you are new to as a parent, coaching can be very helpful. Often as parents it can be difficult to get out of old patterns and implement changes. That’s where coaching comes in! If you feel stuck in a parenting rut, check out the About Family Coaching page for more details.