Sunday, April 3, 2016

Limits-Boundaries

Limits are often referred to as boundaries, but it is hard to establish them if we don't have the backbone and consistency needed to deal with our children in difficult situations. “In all human relationships, limits are necessary. Limits define what works and what doesn't in terms of the effect we have on each other.  Learning appropriate limits is therefore a vital part of a child's development.”  ̶ Dr. Shefali Tsabary Out of Control: Why disciplining your child doesn't work and what will.  Chapter 6. 


In my journey to conscious parenting, I have found that we are often confused deciding how and when to set limits with children.  Conscious parenting works regardless of the adult’s relationship to the child.  You can be a biological parent, a teacher, a grandparent, an auntie, a friend of the family, a priest, a judge, etc., because as we now know, every time we interact with a child, we are automatically parenting. Titles are irrelevant; therefore, we want to be aware of how we relate to children in our care/presence. 

In our family, certain limitations or boundaries constitute our "family culture."  For instance, rudeness is not acceptable in our household. Conversely, bathing, grooming, maintaining a clean environment, as well as being kind, helpful, and grateful are all important values to our whole family.  

Sometimes my four-year-old daughter wants to make bath time an issue. "Mom, I don't want to take a bath." My firm answer always is “That's not an option." I say this because we have already established this to be a non negotiable item. Even if she chooses to state the same complaint, I don't even entertain it, and I don't feel bad about it. I am fine with that particular "pain" that she is experiencing around bath time. 

The key in this situation is to hold the bath time limit. How do I accomplish this task? I do it with compassion and kindness. Since at four years of age, a child is still building this skill. I extend my arm and guide her to the bathroom. We than proceed together. I don't leave her since she is not ready to be left alone --in this scenario. There are times that she does it all by herself. We also get creative with bubble baths, water play and or whatever we choose to do. 

As her parent, my job is to figure out when she is not ready to do things on her own. Without shaming her, yelling at her or making a "big deal" about bath time or any situation that will require my physical presence. This takes time and work from the adult; but the results are priceless. At the same time, you are building trust and emotional confidence with your child.

It took some time for me to develop this muscle (strength) and I continue to work on it. This is because as parents we are prone to feel bad when our children react. Reacting is a normal emotion that everyone must endure in order to learn (look for Blog Article: Acting versus Reacting under www.kindparenting.org). The idea is to create a win-win situation for everyone as Dr. Shefali says. 

Since I know my now, 5 year old daughter likes to have the last word, I create a win-win situation: “Would you would you like to take a bath before or after dinner?" She automatically says after dinner, and that is perfectly fine. My daughter’s choosing when to take the bath makes her happy because she is now part of the decision-making process, and of course, I am thrilled because it is not an issue any more. 

Thanks to the conscious parenting work and the teachings of Dr. Shefali, bath time is an enjoyable time for everyone. Depending on your priorities, you have the power to set your own limits for your family. The key is to follow through on a consistent basis and hold your limit. 


Kirsy 
kirsy@kindparenting.org
www.kindparenting.org

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