Teaching Children To Set Boundaries

You might wonder why I would write on this topic even though I do not have children. Well, over the years, and from an early age, I’ve lost friends who, if, they had set boundaries, might still be here today.

Now, this, of course, goes for all children, boys and girls alike. But being the anniversary of a female friend who took her own life, I feel it fitting to speak heavily for the girls in our lives. Regardless, boundary issues tend to apply to girls far more often. What makes matters worse is we’re still teaching, primarily, the boomer theory of “children should be seen and not heard.” This is an outdated thought process taught to us by our parents, parents.

Setting healthy boundaries? Asserting ourselves? Forget about it. Most girls didn’t learn these things. What children do have drilled into them is, “be polite & quiet, maintain your manners, don’t rock the boat” and let’s not forget the dreaded “be a good girl.” I’m obviously not saying that one shouldn’t be polite and have manners, etc – just we should know to never leave ourselves behind in the process. To know that expressing ourselves, taking up space, setting healthy boundaries, doing what’s best for ourselves, and so on, is not only okay but crucial to living a healthy and balanced life.

Teaching girls healthy boundaries allows them to stay in power and can prevent any future conflicts or resentment. It keeps girls grounded in their self-worth, and opens up a world of endless possibilities – while still being polite. But this isn’t what we teach girls. We teach them to become people pleasers creating anxiety later in life, or the dreaded thought of taking their own life.

Creating healthy boundaries is empowering. By recognizing the need to set and enforce limits, you protect your self-esteem, maintain self-respect, and enjoy healthy relationships. Unhealthy boundaries cause emotional pain that can lead to dependency, depression, anxiety, and even stress-induced physical illness. So, what are some healthy boundaries to teach our children?

  • Physical boundaries
  • Emotional boundaries
  • Time boundaries
  • Intellectual boundaries
  • Material boundaries

Setting boundaries starts with self-awareness. Teach children, If they do not like the way they feel or act, know that they have the power to change it. Teach children to realize they are masters of their universe; they control 100% of their actions and reactions. Teach children to embrace the uneasiness of being uncomfortable at first. It all starts by saying no to what does not serve them, and by standing their ground with no guilt or shame.

Unfortunately, life wasn’t meant to be easy, so remember, even as adults we have the power to replace the old worn-out narratives and reclaim our power. I personally made mistakes recently when discussing boundaries and it’s going to take work, and there will be some bumps along the way, but the end results are worth it. Especially when you overstepped someone else’s boundaries.

Never forget, you are worth it and the children in our lives deserve it. Keep growing, learning, unlearning, and relearning. Never give up!

Thank you, “O!” You might not be here today but your memory lives on.

-Brian Nadon

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