Having personal boundaries is an important characteristic for everyone. Without boundaries, an individual will be walked over and taken advantage of by undeserving people. With firm and healthy boundaries in place, an individual will be respected and will be less likely to become or remain a victim of malicious people with a variety of wrong intentions. So how do you teach your child to set boundaries for themselves?
Teach about Boundaries
If your child is going to set healthy boundaries for him- or herself, they must first know what boundaries are. Talk to your child about boundaries from the time they are young, and it will become a natural thing for them to implement in their lives. There are many books written about the subject, and even materials written with children in mind. Get hold of some of these materials and teach them to your child.
If you see your child being disrespected or taken advantage of, help them to draw boundaries. If your young child is playing with other children and a toy is snatched from them, help them find the words to use, such as “I was playing with that ball. I'm not done with it yet but you can have a turn when I'm finished.” This kind of assistance will prepare them to set boundaries when you are not directly by their side. If an older child speaks about a friend who is constantly pushing for their own way, discuss ways with your child that they could gently but assertively demand better treatment.
Respect Their Boundaries
This is a tough one for parents. If you want your child to be able to draw boundaries with others, you must allow them to draw boundaries with you. Respect your child, their space and their belongings. If you demand something unreasonable from your child and they refuse and give a reasonable answer as to why they cannot fulfill your request, respect their decision. If you are tickling your young child and they tell you to stop, then stop immediately. If you teach your child that they don't deserve your respect, they will not demand anyone else's either.
Lead by Example
One of the best ways for a parent to teach their children about boundaries is to set boundaries for yourself. Allow your children to see you setting boundaries with your friends, family, and other relationships. You must also set healthy boundaries with your child(ren), because if you allow them to disrespect you and your boundaries, they will learn that it is acceptable both for them to trample others' boundaries and allow others to trample their own.
Teach Them to Respect the Boundaries of Others
If one wants to be respected, they must first show respect. An essential lesson to teach your child is to respect the boundaries that others set with them. In addition to setting your own boundaries with your child, encourage them to show respect to all other individuals in their lives.
Boundaries are an important part of life that make all relationships function in a more healthy manner. Setting boundaries is not difficult in theory, but it can be difficult to put into practice. With a little teaching and by being a role model, you can educate your child about this important part of life.