Setting Boundaries and Limits – 2

In the previous post, I wrote about helping kids to learn how to set boundaries and limits using “I” statements.  Boundaries and Limits help kids to trust themselves and builds self-essteem.  The key to effectively being assertive is to avoid using a sentence that includes “you” in it.  Statements like, “You shouldn’t feel like that.”  or “You made it a bigger deal than it is,”  put the receiver on the defensive.  When we begin with an “I” statement, then we respond with, “I believe I have the right to feel this way.”  or “I see how it would look like that.”

To take this a step further, teaching kids to learn boundary setting and limits can help them to protect themselves in an intimate relationship or to feel safe and respected.  My take is this; often, we can teach kids to anticipate the need to set boundaries with someone based on the situation they are likely to be in at some time.  Maybe they are going on their first date, and you want to help them to be able to set some physical limits right at the start.  By helping them to construct some questions along with statements that they can use, you help them to feel confident in new situations.  Sit with your kids and practice various conditions.  Maybe they are going to the movie with a friend.  By helping them know how to be direct with someone regarding their expectations would be beneficial.  The conversation might look like this, “I would enjoy being with you and watching the movie.  I expect that we hold hands but that we don’t touch each other; that way, we both will feel comfortable and enjoy being together.”  You can construct your behavior limits and help them to word it in their way.

When we help kids learn to step up to others in a polite, but assertive way, we greatly enhance their self-esteem and help them to trust themselves in more significant ways.  This trust manifests itself in other ways in their life as they learn to deal with others’ behavior and their expectations about how they want to be treated.  When we step up to others and let them know that their behavior is not acceptable, we help kids to feel confident and self-assured that they can handle the many relationships that they will encounter as an adult.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich