Parent Newsletter - April 2018
Thomas Haller, Alisa Divine and Katrina Jackson
Boundary Talk: The Do’s and Don’ts When Teaching Children about Boundaries
by Thomas Haller
Author of Dissolving Toxic Masculinity: 9 Lessons for Raising Boys to be Empathetic, Compassionate Men
An easy way to understand boundaries is to think about your bottom line. What will or won't you do or allow? A boundary is something you establish for yourself. You can't establish a boundary for someone else. Physical boundaries involve physical closeness, touch, and intimacy. Emotional boundaries protect us from feelings of blame, shame, and ridicule that others may try to impose upon us.
It's important to recognize that boundaries are learned. If as a child your personal boundaries weren't valued, chances are you didn't learn how to establish your bottom line and stand up for what you will and won't allow.
Healthy families create and maintain boundaries that help each member feel their own identity is safe in the world. Boundaries help children set limits so they can be in healthy relationships that enrich, support, and inspire them.
Below are 6 do's and 6 don'ts to consider when teaching your children about boundaries.
1. Do teach your children to make boundaries that are clear, specific, and positive. "Remember to keep your hands to yourself unless you ask for and receive permission" focuses on what you do want rather than on what you don't want and makes the boundary clear. "No touching without permission" creates a clear boundary but focuses on what you don't want. Stick to the positive phrasing.
2. Don't allow teasing, putdowns and name-calling, even under the guise, "Oh, I was just joking around." They are boundary violations because they attack a person's character in an attempt to influence their view of themselves.
3. Don't tickle a child until they can barely breathe and ignore their pleas to stop. This, "tickle game," teaches children that their request to have a boundary respected can be violated by someone bigger and stronger. They become less likely to respect the pleas of another when they are in a position of strength or power.
4. Do knock on bedroom and bathroom doors before entering. This teaches children there is a respect for the privacy of others in this family.
5. Do confront boundary violations directly. Say to your child, "Jason that is space invading. We don't do that without someone's permission because people deserve to define and control their own space. What we do here is ask, 'Do you mind if I give you a hug,' or 'Can I rub your sore arm?'"
6. Don't use "please" as a magic word that requires others to comply, regardless of whether they want to or not. It's important to teach children manners, and they also need to be taught that just because you said please doesn't guarantee you’re going to get what you want. Don't let please go beyond its polite usage and take on the power to persuade.
7. Don't allow the boundary violator to use excuses. "I didn't poke him that hard" or "It didn't hurt" are not acceptable excuses from the perpetrator when someone is touched who did not want to be touched. Such excuses assume that the level of hurt inflicted determines whether a boundary has been violated. It does not.
8. Do allow the person who is on the receiving end to decide if their personal space is being violated. The receiver gets to decide what is too much or too close. Whatever the situation, the most appropriate person to decide when and if their personal space is being invaded is the one being touched.
9. Don't force your child to give a family member, including Grandma, a hug or a kiss if the child does not want to. This teaches kids to give a person in authority what they want, when they want it.
10. Don't force a child to share a toy when they’re not ready to give it up. This practice teaches the child to give to someone what they want when the other wants it, even if the child is not ready to relinquish their turn. The underlying message is: share even if you don’t want to. When asked to share, allow children to finish their turn and give what is requested to the other person when and if they're ready.
11. Do give your children choices around what you ask them to do. A "Do it NOW because I said so" attitude, does not demonstrate a respect for the child’s timing and teaches kids to give in to the demands of adults even when they’re not ready. When kids have choices around when and how to do something their boundary around time and sequence is respected. They feel more personal power and place less demands on the people around them.
12. Do make personal boundary setting in your family each individual’s privilege and responsibility. Yes, that includes the children.
Thomas Haller
Katrina Jackson
Alisa Divine
Video Clip
Below is a recent parent question that Thomas addressed on TV5's Family Matters:
"Our 10 year old is mean to his younger brother all the time. He pinches and pokes him and when we tell him to stop he argues that it wasn't that hard. How do we get him to stop picking on his brother?"
Click the link below to view the answer:
Three New Parenting Workshops
By Dr. Thomas Haller
Life Skill Basics
Teaching Children of any age about Responsibility, Boundaries, and Consent
By Thomas Haller
Reducing Sibling Rivalry
Teaching Children How to Cooperate, Share, and Play Together
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Building Self-Esteem and Confidence
Teaching Children How to Recognize their Own Potential and Live Up to It
By Thomas Haller
Or you can always request one of the 3 most popular parenting workshop
The 6 Best Parenting Strategies Ever Essential Tools for Busy Parents
By Thomas Haller
The Elements of Praise
How to Get More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't from Kids
By Thomas Haller
Transforming Aggression in Children Practical Strategies for Managing Angry and Aggressive Children
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Contact Thomas today to schedule a parenting workshop in your church, school, or community,
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