What is a good response to pushing boundaries?

April 20, 2018

We went on a camping trip a few years ago. A real adventure – we lived in the tent for five weeks. We loved most of it and it was just as lovely to come back home into our 'holding' environment.

 

When I got back home, I realised that for the whole 5 weeks I was in the state of heightened alertness. Even without being fully aware of it, I was scanning what was going on around, day and night. When we got back home, I felt like I could finally could close the door and switch off the radar. I felt safe and held.

 

I always remember that experience when I think about boundaries and children. I believe that children need boundaries and when we set them, they learn that they can trust that we (parents) are there to look after them. They feel safe and held.

 

Having clear boundaries is a healthy, helpful thing.

 

That brings us to two million dollar questions:

 

1. If boundaries are such a good thing, why do children push against them so much?

2. What is a good response to pushing boundaries?

 

Assuming that it is an age appropriate boundary that is not too limiting and not too far off so that the child does not know where it actually is (you get to decide where to draw the line for your child) – asking yourself three further questions will likely help you to find a good response.

 

I will illustrate that with a simple example. Say you tell you 6 year old son that you need to go to the shops and you a straight response: 'I don't want to.'

 

Where do we go from here?

 

1. Is he checking who is in charge?

 

That is the trickiest situation and the most important to see through. Once your child knows for sure that you are there for him, that you've got his back, that you are willing to take on the responsibility of being bigger, stronger and wiser part in the relationship – a lot of parenting struggles just fall off.

 

Sometimes you just know that that's what's going on in your gut. Sometimes you can tell because their request seems so out of character and/or unreasonable.

 

It can be tempting to go into long debate about why you need to go and why you need to go now and what you need to get and why he has to come and so on and so on and so on...

 

You probably noticed that it rarely works, because your child is still not clear who is in charge.

 

Try looking into your state of being first. Turn up the volume up of being bigger, stronger, wiser and kind. Notice the difference in how you feel, how you stand, how you walk and talk. Once you have found it, simply go closer, look him in the eyes, touch his shoulder, say: 'We need to go to the shops, buddy' and notice the difference in his response.

 

2. Is he asking to fill his cup?

 

You child's ability to deal with the situations goes up and down depending on how full his cup is/how well regulated he is.

 

He is likely to meet your request with 'I don't want to', if he is tired, hungry, overwhelmed by the thought of facing the supermarket. If that's the case, filling his cup first (a cuddle, a drink, a snack, a story to listen to in the car, …) will make all the difference.

 

3. Is he engrossed in what he is doing at the moment?

 

If he is and the shops can't wait, you will probably find that your best bet is to acknowledge just how cool it is what he is doing right now, make a plan that he can carry on as soon as you get back and allow a little more time for transition.

 

The point that I am trying to make is that you can find a good response to pushing boundaries when you look to understand what's underneath your child's behaviour, what's driving it. I recorded a Facebook live about it in the Good Enough Parenting group this morning. I was able to go into more detail and share some stories that bring those questions to life. To find out more head tohttps://www.facebook.com/groups/goodenoughparenting/

 

If he is and the shops can't wait, you will probably find that your best bet is to acknowledge just how cool it is what he is doing right now, make a plan that he can carry on as soon as you get back and allow a little more time for transition.

 

The point that I am trying to make is that you can find a good response to pushing boundaries when you look to understand what's underneath your child's behaviour, what's driving it.

 

P.s. If you would like support to implement those ideas in your day-to-day parenting – head to my calendar to book a consultation.

 

 

 

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

MENU

Home

About

Blog 

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn Social Icon