Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boundaries with kids

After rummaging through the hords of boxes full of books in our basement I hit the jackpot. Clutched in my hand I held "Boundaries with kids" by Cloud and Townsend. Yes I need reminding of how to set limits with my two year old in a loving way. How do I balance healthy attachment and discipline? How do I build up a positive sense of self worth in my children and let them know they are not the center of the universe but part of it?

This book does not provide the answers to all your parenting dilemma's but it does provide practical ways to help parents implement boundaries in the lives of their children to help produce healthy and mature adults in the future. I need to have an eye on the future when parenting. I am not Isabel and Ariana's friend, I am their mother and, while friendship will develop, it is love, freedom and limits which they need.

One of the most poignant points the authors make is that children need reality based consequences. In other words, do not rescue your child when she makes a bad choice but let her deal with the consequences now. This will teach her. It is very easy to get pulled back into the way your family or origin functioned when parenting your own children. The emotional pull of the system is incredibly strong. Give reality consequences to your children, not negative relational consequences. Don't scream and shout, emotionally react or distance yourself. When dealing with a behavioral issue give them a simple consequence that you can carry out consistently. How I have noticed this in my own life is that sometimes I can feel overwhelmed with the demands of Isabel. I need to understand that I can say "no" to playing barbies or telling stories or whatever it is. It is not her fault for being demanding, it is my responsibility to provide a boundary for her.

Give your child freedom, give them choices, then if they make bad decisions the parent is the only person who can implement reality consequences. Make it easier for the child to choose well, and praise them for it. As Cloud and Townsend say "You are an oak tree that your children will bump up against." Children are not born with boundaries. Parents provide them with external boundaries and children learn to internalize them. This is one of the ways that children build character, can learn to respect all people and have a healthy sense of their limits., nut are not restricted in their development.

I am still figuring out how to do this well. Some days I do very well giving freedom, love and limits and other days I don't. I have realized that I need to continue to get what I need in terms of time away, building my own career and spending time with other adults to get renewed and that way I am a much better mother to my two girls.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kath - when all else fails a good paddywack and sending them off to their bedrooms worked for me - Peter, John, Nick and Annie (well at least Peter, John and Nick) often learned the hard way!
    Can you believe Peter was the toughest of the lot.......and was always hiding the wooden kitchen spoons! Shame....