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Creating Healthy Boundaries with Kids as a Parent


Mother trying to Work while Kids make Noise
Mother trying to Work while Kids make Noise

As a parent, do you feel like you are on duty 24/7 with no privacy or breaks? Looking after your children might be a full-time job, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't create space for yourself to recharge.


Some parents feel guilty or are shamed into believing that they should always be available for their child's needs. However, taking care of yourself ensures you can take better care of your child which is only possible by creating healthy boundaries with your child.



How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Child


As a parent, it is essential that you take care of your mental and physical health and give yourself enough time to look into things by setting boundaries with your child and maintaining them. Otherwise, you'll be most of the time stressing out over little things.


Now you must be confused about how you can do it without messing up your relationship with your child. Don't worry, we have got your back and will let you go through the steps you can take to create healthy boundaries with your children as a parent. Follow these to succeed:

  • Start Young

  • Be Gentle, but Firm

  • Start Small: Take it step by step

  • Respect your child's boundaries


Start Young


Setting boundaries with children before they are old enough to go to school allows them to adjust to the boundaries while they are growing. Setting boundaries when they are older will make it difficult for them to accept and act upon them.


Teaching them to respect boundaries earlier on helps them learn to respect other peers as well. So, start making them practice boundaries in their initial stages of life to not encounter troubles in the future.



Be Gentle, But Firm


Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially with children. Since children are still growing, they have trouble understanding personal space. This is why it's important to not give in when your child crosses your boundaries.


If you constantly give in, you can end up crossing your own boundaries before your child even gets a chance. It’s natural to want to put your child first, but if you keep giving in, your children will learn that they can get what they want by being fussy and doing away with all your efforts. This will harm both you and your child.



Start Small: Take It Step By Step


Your child will have trouble adapting if you introduce a bunch of new rules at once. It's the same as teaching the alphabet before words and sentences. Make sure you clearly explain and show your child what is acceptable and what is not.


Remember, setting boundaries with children is different from setting boundaries with other people. If your child keeps unnecessarily interrupting you when you are on call, right after you told them not to, don't shout at them.


Give them time to understand and gently explain that it's not right. With this being said, make sure you show your disappointment so your child recognizes you are not okay with it.

Take it one at a time and help them get familiar with one boundary before introducing another. Doing this would help them be more mindful and mentally strong.



Respect Your Child's Boundaries


The best way to teach something is to be an example. You have to learn to respect your child's boundaries before you expect them to respect yours.


Although it’s your job as a parent to watch over your child, your child still deserves space. If your child doesn't want to hug someone, wants some privacy, or doesn't like a certain food, respect their decision.


Mother Laughing With Her Kids
Mother With Her Kids

Self-Reflection: What Are Your Needs?


Before you set your limits, you need to figure out what you need. Ask yourself, what are your needs? There are different types of needs. In this situation, there are mainly four needs:


  • Emotional needs like respect, acceptance, security, and feeling appreciated, important, cared for, safe, and included.

  • Physical needs like rest, space, and activity

  • Spiritual needs like personal values, beliefs, and purpose.

  • Social Needs like love, friendship, and belonging.


By finding out what your needs are, you can better understand how you will fulfil them. That is when you’ll know how to set those boundaries with your child. Discuss boundaries with your child and show them how it works in real life.


For instance, you can explain to your child that a certain time during the day is your relaxing time and that they shouldn't bother you unless there’s an emergency or they genuinely need something.


(See the unhealthy boundaries section to learn more about how this should work).


Tell them how it makes you feel when they don’t respect your needs, and how you appreciate it when they do. Implementing this will help your child understand how to set boundaries with others as well. It will also help you teach them other things like manners.


For instance, It might be easier for your child to understand that they shouldn’t rudely interrupt you when you are talking if they know your time and space are valued as well.



Don’t Set Unhealthy Boundaries


Boundaries can be unhealthy when they disrespect your or others' needs. While you are setting healthy boundaries for yourself, make sure you don’t disrespect your child’s needs.


Using the example from above, if you don’t want your child to bother you during your ‘me time’, make sure your child has everything they need before you go MIA.


Make sure they are safe and away from dangerous objects, aren’t hungry, and have something to do to keep them busy.



Why It’s Important To Create Boundaries?


It’s important to have boundaries with everyone. As a friend, spouses, siblings, parents, or coworkers, we often interact with and help others. Boundaries help set limits so that people don’t cross our personal space and values.


Most people find it hard to say ‘No’, which is why boundaries can also help you limit yourself so you don’t overexert yourself in giving to others.


With this being said, it’s hard to set boundaries with children. Are you known as a mother hen who is always fussing over your child? Parents often feel scrutinized by people if they aren’t able to be emotionally and physically available for their children all the time. For this reason, parents happen to make their children the centre of their lives and become constantly preoccupied with them.


However, as a parent, in order to be there for your children, you need to be healthy. Although you may be catering to your child’s needs physically, if you are mentally exhausted, you won’t be able to be the good parent you want to be.



More importantly, if you make your children the centre of your life, you will become obsessive and overly protective of them, which will make it harder for them to grow. It will also strain your relationship with them.


Infographic: Set Healthy Boundaries With Kids
Infographic: Set Healthy Boundaries With Kids

FAQ's

1. Will creating boundaries make you a toxic parent? Creating boundaries doesn't make you a toxic parent until you don't imply fear, guilt, and humiliation as your tools to make things work according to your will. 2. How to know if your boundaries are poor? The signs of poor boundaries are that your child can't get enough of your time and attention and keep on hiding things from you. He/she feels uncomfortable telling you things if you've maintained boundaries that do not let them open to you.


Takeaway


It’s important to remember that you and your children are separate individuals with different lives. You need to look after your needs and live your life so that you can help them make it through theirs. By taking it step by step, and gently showing your child how to respect your boundaries, you can have the strength to take better care of your child.


This way you can balance your needs with theirs, and build a healthy relationship with your child. Keep in mind that creating boundaries doesn't distance people, it ensures that we respect each other's values by taking care of each other's needs.

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