Guiding Children’s Behaviour

25 Feb

“The most important thing parents can give their children is love. The second most important thing is discipline” – T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

Kids need guidelines and boundaries – clearly defined limitations to feel safe secure and loved.

Delivered with love and warmth, these limits give kids a safe space to grow

No doubt time and again they will throw a fit, push boundaries …..that’s what they are supposed to do as they develop their sense of self; So allow them that freedom to develop, grow but stick to the limits you’ve decided on, with love and firmness coz that’s what they want you to do.

Limits provide a framework so your child understands what is expected out of him and helps him make better decisions.

They learn patience, empathy, being responsible, understanding their own needs and respecting the needs of another.

Make sure the boundaries you set are not coming from an angry place instead they are set so your child can learn something valuable about himself or the world around.

When setting boundaries keep in mind the following –

Is it Necessary in the particular context?

Ask yourself if the boundary is age appropriate. Would it really matter if it isn’t followed? Is it worth an argument? Can I enforce it?  Are my expectations realistic?

Set Boundaries and follow through

Sometimes after a hard days work you don’t have the patience to be calm or get into any discussion; in fact you’d rather just let him have his way….. But Hang in there. Your kids need to know that when you say something, you mean it. They need to know that they can count on you to keep your word.

Have few rules.

Its more effective to have few rules that are reasonable, consistent and respected always, rather than many rules with haphazard compliance.

Acknowledge the positive

Appreciate and encourage children when they have stuck to the rules. As important as it is to be consistent with the consequences when kids overstep the boundaries; it is also important to pay attention and recognize their good choices.

Discuss Expectations

Have family meetings where expectations and consequences are discussed clearly. Vague and inconsistent limits have kids floundering; while rigid and unreasonable expectations are usually met with hostility. When limits are reasonable and developed from a place of love kids learn to operate within safe and socially accepted limits.

As kids grow boundaries could be stretched. Parents who do this in collaboration with their children so that the kids know why decisions are made find it easier to establish these limits without too much rebellion.

As boundaries are being pushed and frustrations run high, stay connected with your child emotionally; Empathize with her feelings of helplessness so the message being conveyed is – The limits I set may upset you but I care about your wellbeing and will always be here for you.

At times the arguments around the limits set become more like a power struggle – The youngster refuses to comply and parents wont budge from their stand. The entire focus   then becomes – ‘who is in charge here?’ Such situations are best avoided. At times like this its best for the parent to be an adult –  Listen to your childs request and see if you can find a middle ground.

It may be difficult to think of reasonable consequences if and when boundaries are not respected. Talk to other parents about boundaries and consequences they use or express your concerns to a counsellor.

Boundaries are all about freedom and responsibility. It gives us a framework in which we negotiate life events, which then helps us and our children with personal growth.

Boundaries simplify life.



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