Children Need Boundaries

Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Discipline and other Parent topics.

How do I set and maintain boundaries for my child?

Children Need Boundaries

Children thrive on routine and boundaries. Unlike adults, kids aren't flexible and they think very concretely so when things are changed around or completely, kids can freak out. Although, there are events that can't be changed (i.e. weather changes so you can't go out to playdates), it's important to stay consistent and follow through.

Don't tell a child one thing and do another. Don't give a child three warnings on Monday morning and six on MOnday afternoon, then twelve on Tuesday.

Parenting is difficult, complicated and always in a state of adjustment and learning. There aren't enough parenting books or seminars or friends/family to give you all the answers for every situation, but if you stay consistent and follow through, life can be easier.

Here's an example: Let's say Johnnie wants to go to the park. You're grateful for getting out of the house because it's been a long winter. So both of you are enjoying the nice day when you get to the swingset area, Johnnie decides he wants to play in the sand around it. You get to talk to other mommies and enjoy your coffee when Johnnie decides to throw sand in another kid's face. You give him one warning, help the other child (deal with the parent who might be screaming at you), and tell him if he does it again, you're leaving.

So within five minutes, he does it again, so do you:

(A) LEAVE right then and there, regardless where you want to stay or not

(B) Give him a choice of leaving because you don't want to have him make a scene in front of everyone

(C) Give him another warning and see if he listens that time

If you didn't answer "A", you might want to ask yourself why. You leave immediately, no matter if YOU want to or not. Who cares what other parents think. They are going to be angry at you if you keep allowing your child to throw sand at their kids, especially when corneal abrasions (sand can cause scratches on the surface of the clear part of the eye/cornea) are horribly painful and their child can end up in the ER.

The thing is you've already given him a warning, now if you don't follow through, you've lost his respect and he's going to keep pushing boundaries until he figures out where they are.

That his job and your job is to set up and defend the boundaries, even if it means going to full on war and he's in time out for the rest of the day.

It's not to say the rest of the day won't be miserable because now you're all at home and he's screaming and upset and you both really needed to get out of the house, but know that if you're consistent, next time you both might get to stay a lot longer at the park.

Be strong parents! It's a hard job, but be strong and know we're all in this confusing journey together. Somedays will be better than others, but despite our parents best efforts, most of us get to be adults.

(I know this may sound simple to those with tween and teenagers--that's a whole other realm of parenting.)



Nobody has commented on this tip yet. Be the first.


URL: (optional)


Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Parent Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Patricia Walters-Fischer