Kids thrive in well-defined boundaries.
I do not like to dwell on the bad moments of my life, however, this lesson came from a real “low” point of mine. I was given some parenting criticism from an unnamed loved one (we’ll give this story some “mystery”). This person felt the need to tell me that my kids needed more boundaries in their life because my girls were out of control. It was a messy, tear-filled conversation and it hurt. I was trying to adjust to life with our new (and fourth!) baby girl and we were in a particularly whiny stage with my two-year old daughter. Consequently, advice was the last things I felt I needed. But, I learned a lot from that experience.
Everyone has their own unique gifts and talents. This “advice-giver” happens to be really good at pushing to find the best in any situation. She doesn’t settle. I can fight who she is and be mad about her “offensive” parenting criticism towards me. Or, I can choose to take what she’s trying to tell me from a place of love. I can appreciate her for communicating with me. So- although this was a low point, I can honestly say I am glad for that moment. I think it’s very important to work with different personalities, and not against them. Otherwise, you miss out on an opportunity to grow!
My kids were (and still are, at times) out of control.
So- what can we do about it? Here’s what we did:
I gave this “training lesson” one Monday night shortly after my baby was born, and here we are four months later… I still am enjoying the effects from the training and am SO happy we took the time to do it! The boundaries in our home are now much clearer because of a little communication.
I’ll jump right to it! Here is the lesson:
- Read through the lesson and make any notes for things you want to bring up.
- Talk to your spouse about the lesson so they know what’s going on and how they can support you.
- Hide several small treats around the house for your kids to find.
- Start the Family Meeting with a song, a prayer, and/or a scripture if desired.
What is a Boundary? (It’s a well-defined space. The boundaries to your bedroom is all the area inside the walls of your room. Those are the boundaries of your room. The boundaries for our yard are all the area inside our fence and out to the road.)
What do you think the boundaries are for a soccer game? (Inside the lines!)
Let’s pretend that we’re playing in a soccer game. You get a chance to kick the ball, and it goes out of the field, beyond the lines. It’s gone “out of bounds!” But let’s pretend there are no lines, or boundaries where you are supposed to play the game. The ball starts heading out toward the road. Now the whole team is following this ball out into the street! That doesn’t sound like a very fun way to play soccer, does it? We need boundaries: an area that we stay in to play our game!
Boundaries are good for all kinds of situations. Where is it safe for you to play outside? Talk about a clear line that you are okay with your kids playing without asking. For us, the kids have to ask to play outside. Then if they are playing outside, we explain how the boundaries are from one neighbor on the left to another neighbor on the right.
If you go out of the boundaries, I may not be able to find you and something dangerous could happen to you. Consequences for playing out of the boundaries could be that the child cannot play with friends the rest of the day, and the next day.
The boundaries keep us safe and happy.
Can you guys think of some other boundaries that are good to have? You can talk about body safety boundaries: where is it okay to take off our clothing, etc. You could mention boundaries at school or elsewhere.
People have personal boundaries. We don’t jump on people without asking first, right? When we are at someone’s house, we don’t open their fridge or pantry, right? We also don’t go in the mom and dad’s room without asking first. We don’t look in someone’s purse- that is their property and we need to ask before we touch their things. That is showing good manners.
Now the activity:
I’ve hidden some little treats throughout the house. As we go on a hunt to find them, we’re going to make sure you guys know where the boundaries are for you in our own house! There are lots of areas that are in the boundaries for you kids, and there are some areas in the house that are just for Mom and Dad. When we get close to an area that is not for kids then Mom and Dad are going to tickle you and say “OUT OF BOUNDS!” That will help the kids get a clear picture of what is okay for them to get into. The tickling helps them experience a big sensory response for places that they shouldn’t be going. Plus, it’s fun!
*Walk around the house look for treats. Be sure to take them around to places you don’t want them to go- for example:
- Laundry room cupboards
- Mommy’s makeup
- Mom and Dad’s clothes
- Office drawers or cabinets
- Bathroom cabinet etc.
All the while, let them be on the hunt for treats to eat along the way and explaining where it’s fine to explore. Be sure to have fun while saying “OUT OF BOUNDS!” when they are approaching an area that is not meant for kids to get into.
Close the lesson by showing the kids the last hiding spot and enjoy the final treat. We had a yummy loaf of zucchini bread.
Ask if they have any questions about things or places they can or can’t get into. Make sure they understand where the most important boundaries are and any consequences you’d like to reveal in advance.
This training lesson made for a really fun experience for my kids. Now months later, when they go into the pantry, I can giggle and say “out of bounds” and they say something like, “Oh yeah Mom!” and giggle as they run out.
My normal response without this training would more nagging/yelling as I tell my kids to get out of an potentially dangerous or messy area. This training has kept the reminder a light-hearted and positive interaction with my kids. For their personalities, this is key to make it a successful parenting technique. If you are looking for an awesome resource on finding methods to reach your kids unique personality best, I would recommend this book. I love this quote from the author:
This lesson engages the playful side of my young kids, and so it’s been really effective for us. I love that this lesson addresses many important and helpful aspects:
- Safe playing boundaries
- Body safety boundaries
- Boundaries in our own home to eliminate some stress on mom’s part
- Manners for when kids are a guest in someone’s home.
Another favorite parenting resource I am pulling from, and would recommend is Amy McCready’s positive parenting solutions program. We love her program, and she also recommends holding weekly family meetings. This training works well for family meeting material and to train our kids to know what’s expected of them!
I hope you find this lesson easy, fun and helpful for your family. It hurts to be stretched and in-conflict with another personality, but in that stretching, we grow. My personality is a bit more laid-back/care-free than my “advice-giver” yet, I also love to give advice! I was able to see how it feels to be on the receiving end: probably important for me to experience! I enjoy trying to find solutions to problems, but I need to be more mindful when communicating any advice I might have 🙂
In conclusion, the whole idea behind this training and article is to work WITH the personalities you have been given to work with, not AGAINST. Your young kids may need some training on boundaries, but you can still keep it light-hearted and fun.
Have you ever experienced that feeling of shame when someone tells you what you’re doing wrong? If so, how did you handle it? Let us know in our facebook group! Good luck fellow momma! I wish you the best in your family training!