At Invictus International Preschools, The Virtues Project serves as the foundation for all we do - nurturing the children's character and our relationships, enabling a positive, peaceful and co-operative learning environment for all.
Boundaries keep us safe. Virtues-based boundaries focus on respect, restorative justice, and reparation to create a climate of peace and safety, in our relationships, at home, in school, and in the community. Personal boundaries help us to build healthy relationships, and protect our time, our energy and our health.
Healthy boundaries and respect are interchangeable in some ways. Someone with a strong set of personal boundaries is unlikely to violate another’s. This is because they want others to respect their invisible lines, which deters them from crossing others’ without permission.
As a parent, teaching your kids about healthy boundaries will lay the foundation for them to have loving relationships in the future. While you can still learn to implement boundaries as an adult, instilling this knowledge in early childhood proves more effective.
Luckily, we have 10 tips for you on how to teach your child their limits.
10 Ways You Can Teach Kids About Healthy Boundaries
1. Start with yourself
What’s the first thing you honestly learned about parenting? Is it not how children tend to follow in their parent’s footsteps?
Inspect your own boundaries and see if you’re coming up short in enforcing them. Additionally, what are the extent of your limits?
Do you have a rigid or a healthy set? When your child crosses a boundary- one they might not even know about- you need to clearly discuss why those boundaries matter to you.
Keep your boundary lines strong, and your child will learn from you.
2. Discuss core boundaries
Boundaries are entirely personal and customisable, so to speak. However, there are some core boundaries or general rules of the universe that everyone follows. These can be a good starting point.
Teach them responsibility and safety. When a person asks them to stop, they should immediately do so out of respect and responsibility towards the other’s well-being. Learning to heed others’ core boundaries will make their own stronger.
Especially for Kindergarten toddlers, learning how to not give in to peer pressure at an early age could help them to build healthy relationships throughout their lives.
3. Discuss physical boundaries
We all have our limit for how much physical contact we’re willing to allow another person, right? And absolutely no one has the right to breach those, considering it’s our own body.
Someone with hypersensitivity is also likely to react negatively to the tiniest of physical contacts. When they do, you should respect their wishes.
Children should learn that they have the right to feel safe at all times. As parents, we can help them to use their assertiveness to be able to say. “Please stop, I don’t like that,” and conversely be respectful if such a request is made of them.
4. Discuss emotional boundaries
Emotions define the best of us.
When someone hurts your feelings, you must acknowledge that. In turn, you should be considerate of theirs. So teach your child how to express those emotions, whether hurt or anger.
If they feel this way, the decision to forgive the other person should be your child’s. It should never be taken away from them. Help them to understand the meaning of the virtue of forgiveness.
5. Have clear consequences
Just like your child should be aware of some core boundaries, they should have a clear map of the consequences of not respecting them.
Don’t just implement any consequence you see fit. Instead, reach an argument on a particular set of consequences for each offense. Also, make sure the consequences don’t outweigh the misdeed.
Understanding that violating boundaries can have negative effects on their own life and on others too will help them to be respectful of boundaries.
6. Let your child have a voice
You can have private and family meetings on boundaries and emotions with your child. Discussing boundaries and consequences and empowering the children to make choices is important.
Value their perspectives to ensure they begin to establish their own boundaries and the resulting consequences.
7. Be consistent
Once you have those consequences and expectations in place, you must follow through with them.
When you’re firm with your boundaries, even as your children grow up and learn a new set of them, it will give them the courage to maintain their own.
. 8. Practice scenarios
Discuss possible scenarios where a person’s boundaries have been set and violated. Discuss the responses a person is likely to have in that situation and the results following these responses.
Ask your children what they feel in these situations and what virtues could help them. This would form a clear plan in their hand when they face those situations and encourage them to call on their virtues and be discerning.
9. Accepting differences
Teach your children about how people can be different from one another.
At White Lodge, learning to accept differences and developing kindness and tolerance is part of our mission. . We encourage children to embrace the diversity of the people around them and learn to understand each other’s differences.
10. Let them solve their own problems
Especially when it comes to matters among children, empower them to solve their issues and have boundary discussions independently. .
Your children learn from you so if we as parents are setting clear, virtues-based boundaries with specific and relevant consequences, with a consistent approach, your child will flourish and develop the ability to independently establish and maintain their own boundaries.
Children feel safe when they know where the boundaries are. We tell them what we DO want, not what we don’t want. So, family ground rules or boundaries need to be positively worded virtues statements such as, “We use peaceful language, even when we are upset.” Every family needs four or five ground rules or agreements, at any age and stage.
This IS the time of our lives and our children’s lives. We need to design it well. Boundaries help us to live the good life.