Building Boundary Blocks-3rd in Series

by Debbie Twomey on March 23, 2011



The words boundary (something that indicates or border or limit) and block (something that obstructs or hinders) may seem contrary to the healthy development of a child. But building or constructing boundaries and blocks (in this case a foundation) is important to; “ Provide boundaries that will allow growth and protect your child and one day your child will thank you by becoming a productive, well-mannered, and kindhearted adult” (DJ Twomey ).

Remember, babies are not born with any instincts to understand expectations, what may be allowable, or inappropriate. This is a lesson that should be taught with gentle but firm hands. Without these lessons, children have not gained the skills they will eventually require for:

• Attaining self-discipline

• Cultivating self-confidence

• Respect for themselves or others

Parents should determine what the boundaries will be, early on. With babies, it may be items (lamps) or rooms (kitchen) to avoid as soon as their child begins to crawl. Later, these boundaries will change as well as any consequences. Keep in mind that any enforcement should be age-appropriate. Set and clearly define all limitations (and use common sense to not overload any child with too many limitations) and ALWAYS follow through. A simple guide includes: A).consistency  B). consistency and C). consistency.

Parents should jointly determine parameters and the consequences. A divided front only serves to confuse a child and set up an opportunity for disagreement or controversy. When disciplining children, never give a verbal caution without the instructed follow through or you will be in danger of losing believability. It will not only undermine your authority, you will be in danger of losing valuable ground in setting up necessary boundaries for your child. Crossing boundaries must be met with immediate, reasonable, and CONSISTENT consequences.

Without proper guidance children can get lost too easily. The world is run by structure or there would be total chaos. This guidance takes the form of discipline. Some equate discipline with corporal punishment or abuse but that is the opposite end of the spectrum. True structure is setting rules and responsibilities that will eventually afford your child the necessary tools to learn and become socially adept.

Structure and boundaries enable children to function in a world that demands order and limits. This is not meant to cast aspersions on a child’s imagination or abilities, but to instill a sense of right and wrong, acceptable vs. not acceptable, and direction as compared to pandemonium. Children look to parents for direction and guidance and being responsible as a parent means holding your children accountable for their actions—once you have guided them properly. Be clear and precise about expectations, at any age.

There are many effective methods for setting up boundaries and expectances. Deterrents and punishments differ-one is meant to prevent the unacceptable behavior, the other to reinforce that it is not allowed. Punishment is ill-advised if the parent has not set up the boundaries. Once those boundaries are established, always follow through. Without the response already stated to your child, they can easily lose direction and that will make teaching any lesson, more difficult. The ABC’s of building valuable boundaries are APPARENT: Accuracy, Believability and Consistency.

Be a conscientious parent and create those essential building blocks for your child.

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