By Eleanor Beeslaar
Setting boundaries with your children is a critical part of creating healthy relationships within your family. Not only do healthy boundaries in parent-child relationships strengthen those relationships, but they also teach children how to set boundaries in other relationships, instilling lifelong skills for children to have happy, healthy, and safe relationships. Boundaries also help establish security and stability in children’s lives and allow for positive growth and development.
What do healthy boundaries in parent-child relationships look like?
Healthy boundaries in parent-child relationships can look like rules and routines. Examples of these boundaries include: bed time, limits around screen time, and rules about homework or chores. The rules and routines parents establish help children feel a sense of security and stability and teach them important life skills. Healthy boundaries between parents and children also allow kids a degree of freedom and autonomy to explore and develop a sense of identity. Giving children freedom and autonomy can be something as simple as letting them choose what sports they want to play, what hobbies they want to engage in, or what clothes they want to wear. You can work together with your kids to find a balance between the rules and routines that are non-negotiable and the areas where your children have more autonomy.
Just like other relationships, boundaries in parent-child relationships change over time, especially as your kids grow older and search for more autonomy and freedom. As your children get older, it is important to give them the space to discover their identities and interests, learn how to develop relationships with people outside of the family, and to make mistakes. However, this is much easier said than done. Letting go can induce a lot of anxiety for parents, especially because you want what is best for your kids. Part of establishing healthy boundaries and giving your children more freedom involves learning how to let go, how to trust your children, and how to manage the anxiety and fear that comes with this transition. What might this increased freedom and autonomy look like? It can look like adapting and changing rules to better fit your child’s developmental stage. This may involve giving them more internet or social media privileges, while still monitoring their activity to make sure they are being safe online. It could also look like letting your child go to the movies with their friends without you being there. It is important to keep in mind is that this process will look different for everyone and may take some time to figure out. We encourage you to work with your kids to determine what will work best for your family’s unique situation.
Another key element in establishing healthy boundaries with your kids is setting aside time for yourself. Creating time for self-care allows you to take care of your own needs, which will help you be better prepared to take care of your kids. Boundaries related to self-care can be as simple as saying that once a week, you will do something that is just for you. This may look like reading a book after the kids go to sleep, going out with friends for lunch, or taking time to go for a run. Regardless of what self-care looks like for you, making time for it is a crucial part of setting healthy boundaries for yourself as a parent.
We hope today’s blog will help you set healthy boundaries with your children, especially as you navigate different transitions that come hand-in-hand with your kids getting older!