by Jessica Zonneveld, Childrens' Coach
Boundaries: many parents struggle with this.
You’re completely normal!
Classroom boundaries are different than parents' boundaries.
From my many years in the classroom, I definitely experienced the benefits of having boundaries with kids, and I also experienced their cunning plans to test them; I must admit, sometimes they won. They had good reasons, or they could do cute faces or some good bargaining; or the consequences weren’t super "severe" for me as a teacher. At the end of the day, I was only responsible for facilititating and providing a learning environment, not raising a well-rounded individual, fit for society.
Having said that, I’m aware of the challenge of sticking to your boundaries. The kind of boundaries I’m referring to here were fairly inconsequential classroom rules, but for you as a parent they are obviously different. Parents face different challenges than those of a classroom teacher and more complex, challenges that fit the nature of your relationship, but the principles are the same.
Boundaries are good. But why do we feel guilty about them?
Kids need to test boundaries in order to feel safe and grow. What I hear from a lot of parents is a lot of guilt and insecurity when it's time to apply them.
They feel guilt about the rules they make and insecurity whether they are making the right choice. Let's put those feelings aside for a moment.
Narrow or wide, it doesn't matter. As long as you maintain these boundaries.
What’s important is the reason why you choose to set boundaries. They can be as narrow as you like, or as wide; the key feature is that you maintain them.
Keep in mind that your aim is to provide safe boundaries for your children and to instill in them the knowledge of what is good and safe for them. You’ve been at this life much longer than they have, (and even if you don’t have all the answers, that’s okay!). Boundaries are about safety and respecting rules – essential life skills. You aren’t trying to control your child – but to keep them safe and happy.
Making mistakes can also be a valuable lesson for them.
Sometimes you’ll make mistakes; that’s okay. Good is good enough. Admit when you get it wrong to your child, say a genuine sorry and move on (don’t try to apologise by "buying" their forgiveness). You are always modelling to them on how to behave and this includes also the case of making mistakes.
You’re not perfect, and they won’t be either – sorry – we are only human beings after all. We can’t control everything that happens and that’s okay – what’s important is how we react.
Be confident in your parenting decisions and defend yourself in there. If you are unsure, that’s okay, but you are the parent and they are the children, and not the other way round.
Trust yourself. You’re doing a great job!
You’ve got this!
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