In this blog post, I’ll be discussing the importance of setting clear boundaries for our children.
One day, when our daughter was about 6 years old, she was upset with me and started yelling a lot of mean things. I told her to stay in her room until she calmed down, but she continued to scream. My 9 year old son asked if I should let her say things like that. I decided he had a point. I went back to my daughter and gave her a swat on her bottom and said she wasn’t allowed to speak to me like that. Then I said she could come out when she was calmer, and I left.
A few minutes later, she came out, apologized, and thanked me for spanking her, saying that she was out of control and needed help. I hugged her, forgave her, and that was the end of it. This was the only time any of my children thanked me for disciplining them, but it got my attention and made me think.
It’s important for parents to establish clear boundaries so their children know which behaviors are acceptable and which ones aren’t. Children feel more secure when they know what their boundaries are.
The children who find the greatest security in knowing their boundaries are often the ones who push the hardest against them. (Some people refer to them as the strong willed child.) They are testing their authority figures to find out if those boundaries truly exist. Parents need to decide what their boundaries for their children are, and then reinforce them as consistently as possible.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. There are moments when we parents are just too exhausted to follow through appropriately. When that happened to me, I prayed for wisdom, grace, and strength to do what was right, and then followed through on it.
In short, decide what your boundaries are and how you’re going to reinforce them (using praise, rewards, reprimands, and consequences) and then follow through as consistently as possible.
Questions for meditation and discussion: (1) Have you and your husband established clear boundaries with your children? Do you find this challenging to do? Explain. (2) Have you and your husband decided how you’ll reinforce your boundaries? If not, why not? (3) Do you find it challenging to be consistent? Explain.
Application homework: Discuss boundaries and methods of reinforcement with your husband. Prayerfully strive to be as consistent as possible with your children. How is it going?