Special to The Morning Star
Creating boundaries and rules for children is challenging for many parents.
Far too often, parents are worried about offending their children and become their child’s friend and not their parent.
Parents who try to be friends with their children send a confusing message. When your child does something wrong, you will need to enforce the right behavior, but your child will not understand the role change.
It undermines your role as parent. Establishing rules and consequences are difficult and exhausting! I know, I have three children.
Rules provide guidelines for behaviour and help children to learn the difference between what is socially acceptable and socially unacceptable behaviour.
They learn self-control and self-discipline and begin to set limits for themselves. Further, clear and fair rules also help to create order in the home and boundaries help kids feel safe and supported.
We do our children no favours if we fail to set and keep to a clear set of boundaries. Some basic guidelines for creating rules include (Practical Parenting UK, 2012):
1. Review your values and priorities. Adjust boundaries to take into account changing circumstances.
2. Boundaries should be pre-considered, well thought out and reasonable.
3. As children get older, boundaries increasingly need to be negotiated so that children can appreciate the logic and importance of them.
4. Really listen to your child, and make sure that you understand the issues involved from their perspective.
5. Make sure that both parents (and preferably other responsible adults) consistently enforce the same rules and consequences.
6. It is important that consequences are agreed at the same time as boundaries.
7. Discuss the setting of boundaries in a calm, non-confrontational atmosphere, when you both have sufficient time.
8. Once a boundary is set, and consequences are agreed, don’t back down. Children will test boundaries. Be ready!
When you set solid limits and boundaries for your child, you are sending them a clear message that says that you care about them and want them to be safe and feel secure as they learn about the world.
Doug Rogers is substance abuse prevention counsellor with the Vernon School District.