Setting Boundaries and Limits – 3

Setting Boundaries and Limits – 3

In the previous two posts, we have discussed the value of helping kids learn how to set boundaries and limits with others.  Learning to set boundaries and limits is such an important life skill that I would venture to say many adults have not learned how to practice it effectively.  Setting boundaries and limits is a valuable skill, and are best by learning how to start a statement towards another person with an “I” statement.  “I” statements put the ownership on the person speaking but are assertive statements requesting a behavior change of someone else.

One such example might include trying to get someone’s attention.  Maybe you would like for the friend to call or text you more often.  Rather than starting a sentence with “You don’t care about me and then going on about their behavior, you start with “When you don’t call or text me, I start to feel like I don’t matter anymore.”  We are teaching kids to stand up for themselves in a polite, direct, and caring manner that will bring about a behavior change in most people.  If someone is angry about a friend who doesn’t seem to listen to them, they can say, “You never seem to hear me,” which puts the other person defensive.  But, when we teach them to start with, “When you don’t listen to me with eye contact, I feel frustrated and like I don’t matter.”

In the above examples, we are teaching assertiveness, helping their trust in themselves and their self-esteem.  These skills allow them to function in a variety of settings with confidence.  Many kids lack confidence because they do not have these skills of Setting Boundaries and Limits by using the assertive “I’ statements.  I remember the “I” statement formula as follows:

  1.  I feel . . . (insert feeling word)
  2. When . . . (tell what caused the feeling.”
  3. I would like . . . (say what you want to happen instead)

When putting together, it looks like this:  I feel so frustrated when you don’t stop and listen to me.  I would like you to stop what you are doing and look at me.”  Then I would stop and wait for the other person’s reaction.  The tendency is to keep going and explain it further, but then we can get caught up in the emotion of it all.  Suggest that the kids stop and wait for a reaction and then move on.  Over time others will learn that you will stand up for yourself and call them on their behavior.  All around, this helps to build healthy relationships and healthy kids.

Parts 1 & 2 on this topic and linked here Setting Boundaries and Limits – Dr. Rich Patterson (; Setting Boundaries and Limits – 2 – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Here is a link to Very Well Family post on this topic setting limits with kids – Bing


Yours for Better Parenting,