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Establishing Boundaries for a Resilient Future

As the new year begins, it’s common to reflect on changes to which we want to commit. One crucial commitment is establishing boundaries that foster mental and emotional well-being in our kids, yet it comes with challenges that can hinder our efforts:
1. Desire to be liked: You may worry that enforcing boundaries and consequences might make your child dislike you. Their protests are not a rejection of you but a resistance to your boundaries. Recognizing this enables you to focus on fostering growth rather than succumbing to emotions like anger or guilt.
2. Remembering when you were a kid: You may find yourself thinking, ‘I know what it’s like to feel disappointment and I don’t want that for my child.’ Embracing disappointment helps children develop emotional resilience, a crucial skill for navigating the challenges of adulthood.
3. Wanting them to make their own choices: While it’s important to encourage independence and decision-making skills, kids often lack the logic, maturity and life experiences needed to make choices in their best interest. Supporting their decision-making with clear boundaries is fundamental to their growth.
Strategies for Creating Healthy Boundaries
1. Create clarity: Establishing clear boundaries and consequences in advance helps you avoid making a decision in the heat of the moment – one you may later regret. Letting your child know the expectation ahead of time gives them clarity and awareness.
2. Be their parent: Embrace the role of a parent, not a friend, when enforcing boundaries. This mindset allows you to stay consistent and provide structure, even when faced with your child’s disappointment.  Avoid letting their disappointment become your guilt. Remember you are arming your child with important life skills.
3. Stay consistent: Children thrive on consistency, and it helps them understand the boundaries that are in place. Acknowledge your slip-ups, saying, ‘I didn’t follow through, and that’s on me. Moving forward, my expectations are…’ Your kids will appreciate your honesty.
4. Preventing entitlement: Establishing clear boundaries helps kids realize there are limits to their wants and behaviours – that the world doesn’t cater to their every wish. This realization fosters a more realistic and appreciative perspective, reducing the likelihood of entitlement.

When your child pushes back (which is their job), your role is to maintain a healthy boundary. By staying steadfast, they will learn to cope with disappointment, frustration and setbacks – essential for bouncing back from life’s challenges.

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker and creator of UPower Inc, offering keynotes, presentations and workshops on ‘Emotions Change Choices’ to audiences ages 4 -100. She can be found at sarawestbrook.com or on Instagram @iamsarawestbrook.


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