Why it's important for kids to have boundaries

Sep 30, 2022
Why kids need boundaries

What would you tell me if I asked you how good you are at implementing and maintaining boundaries?  Most parents I work with know that boundaries are important, but they struggle to establish them and then consistently and effectively maintain them.  While boundaries can be difficult, they are an essential tool to have in your parenting toolbox to help equip your child for successfully navigating the demands of life.

Why are boundaries so important? Boundaries help kids feel safer and more secure, they help them develop self-control, and they help teach them how to stand up for themselves.

Feeling safe and secure is critical for children as they are reliant upon others for their survival. Though children may push back or be disgruntled about rules and boundaries, a world with no limits is actually scary for a child.  Boundaries create predictability for our children which helps to reduce anxiety.  Knowing what is expected of them — and what happens next — is important to their well-being.  It helps to calm down their central nervous system and increase cooperation.

Boundaries also help our children learn to develop self-control as most kids are naturally impulsive and controlled by their whims.  Think back to how often your three-year-old interrupted you to tell you what they want or ask a question!  Impulse control is driven by our prefrontal cortex, which is under construction in our kids’ early years and not fully developed until they’re in their mid 20’s.  Self-control is a skill that has to be learned and developed, and you can help develop this skill through boundaries.  Boundaries help our kids learn how to regulate their behavior and control their impulses so they can successfully navigate life on their own.

Multiple studies have shown that self-control is one of the most important highly correlated strengths and predictors of success in multiple areas of life.  According to Dr. Michelle Borba, author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine, self-control influences virtually every aspect of our children’s lives, it’s that crucial.

In addition to kids feeling safe and developing skills in self-control, boundaries help our kids learn how to stand up for themselves.  When we calmly and consistently hold boundaries, we are modeling how to stand up to pushy people and avoid getting talked into things that we don’t want to do.  We want to help our kids develop skills to deal with peer pressure, and one way to do this is by modeling effective boundaries.

The key to using boundaries effectively in your parenting is to use them as an effective tool, and not from a place of anger or punishment.  Punishment or anger would detract from helping your kids feel secure, and you wouldn’t be modeling the way you want your kids to use them.  Effective boundaries don’t leave you feeling mean or insensitive.

Do you want to add effective boundaries to your parenting toolbox to parent more confidently?  One of the key factors in our ability to effectively implement and maintain boundaries is how we communicate with our kids.  If you want to boost your parenting toolbox, join me for my October workshop — Communicate For Cooperation, and learn to communicate like a parenting pro.  If you are sick of battling your kids and wish they would just listen and cooperate — Click here to register and learn how to communicate for cooperation instead of escalation.   

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