Every Friday over in my free online community Healthy Boundaries for Heart-Centered Women, I host a live Q&A session where I dig into a question asked by one of the members. Last week, a member posed an incredible question about how to raise children with healthy boundaries.
I've actually started thinking about how to teach kids to have healthy boundaries (because so many of us didn't get that growing up.) My son is almost 3. We have been teaching him to say stop when he doesn't want to be teased or tickled anymore, and we respect that, but I have also felt like its difficult to help him understand he can't just get his own way all the time and in some situations he needs to respect mom and dads decision. I just am afraid it is confusing to him that sometimes we listen to him and he gets to choose his own boundary and other times he does not. But I guess that's just parenting you could probably do a whole series on it but I would love to hear a few thoughts.
What an incredible question, and such an important consideration for those of us who are finding ourselves learning about and implementing healthy boundaries for the first time in our lives as adults... imagine the unnecessary pain we can spare our children by being intentional about this kind of thing now?
My own children are only 8, 6 and 2. That means that I am nowhere near done with my own parenting journey, and while we can only hope we are on the right track, I expect that I will only really find out that we are when they reach adulthood if we did ok in this regard.
In many ways then, I am in the same boat as everyone else, figuring it out as I go along.
I do however think its important to realize that while our children learn from what we say to and teach them about life, and perhaps we will have many opportunities to impart wisdom to them as they grow older and their social lives get more complicated, we can lay the foundations for healthy boundaries for them now simply by being on our own journeys towards health and healthy boundaries.
Our children look to us to model healthy humanity. They learn how to be healthy humans by watching and imitating us. In that way, every single time we make a decision that takes us towards greater health and healthier relationships, we are teaching them about healthy boundaries.
With every single investment we make in ourselves, we can expect a return in their lives as well. As we grow in our understanding of healthy boundaries, embrace the responsibility we have over our own lives, and accept that it is not our job to control or manipulate others, we become better parents and model healthier boundaries.
I believe that as we take full responsibility for ourselves, and raise our children to take responsibility for their lives, choices, feelings and beliefs, and as we resist the urge to control them, teach them the skills or pass on the tools they need to exercise self-control and expect them to honor and respect themselves, us and others while modeling these principles ourselves, our children grow into adults who intrinsically honor their own boundaries and the boundaries of others.
During the live Q&A that Friday, I also shared with Kendra some of the ways we introduce some of these concepts in age appropriate ways in our own family. If missed it or would like to catch up on that - why don't you head on over there to check it out?
All of that is available right here:
LIVE Q&A: Raising Children with Healthy Boundaries
How about you? How do you go about imparting the skills needed to establish healthy boundaries to your children?