I recently wrote a post about adults who push boundaries, but it’s worth noting that kids are experts at it! And, at the risk of writing about boundaries to excess, I think it’s important for all parents to know how they can benefit children, too.
It’s taken me 11 years of (nearly) full-time parenting to figure something out: kids really do love boundaries. I know all the parenting books say so. But, have you ever been around a toddler testing boundaries? Let’s just say you’d SWEAR kids hate them.
I’ve been a big “boundary-setter” for most of my parenting career, but only recently have I noticed how much children benefit from them. A good example happened last night: I gave my youngest daughter a discipline for not getting in the bathtub on time. And, you’d think I’d just ripped off her toenails! But, after she had finished the discipline, she calmly approached me, hugged me, and told me how much she loved me. I could see a sense of relief in her eyes. When she felt most out-of-control in her behavior, it felt GOOD that someone stepped-in and controlled the situation.
And, it was then I knew it–boundaries make children feel safe. Even when they protest a parent who’s holding a boundary, children need to know the limits are there. It’s all about predictability.
I realize this is parenting 101, but it’s easy to doubt your methods when the payoff can be a long, long, long time coming.
And, it’s not just parenting where boundaries are important. In all relationships, putting-up and holding boundaries is crucial. When someone knows where they stand, it feels safer. Ironically, rules and boundaries create more freedom.
So, here’s to boundaries! And, here’s to all the parents who know when to hold them!