Setting boundaries can be difficult–especially when children have big feelings about the boundary you’re trying to set. Kids need boundaries, and so do parents! However, kids are also going to test those boundaries and see what they can get away with. They are going to fight us and see if they can break us down. When we give in, kids learn that if they push back, they can get what they want. So, if you are going to give in, do it intentionally, but also use this strategy to hold firm on your boundary. In these moments it is important to connect with your kids while keeping a firm boundary. Here is what you can try:
First, set the boundary– “You are not having a cookie before dinner.”
Next, validate their feelings- “I can see that is upsetting for you.”
Last, show empathy- “I am disappointed when I can’t get what I want as well, let’s find something you can have if you’re hungry before dinner is ready.”
This may seem like we’re giving too much attention to something that should be a simple “no”, but in that moment, your child really wants a cookie and it feels like a big deal to them that they can’t have it. When we connect with our child and show them that we have had that same emotion, we give them the tools to cope and move through it and we build them up for future disappointment.
This strategy can be used at any age and with any boundary. You can give it a try the next time you need to:
- end screen time
- help your child wait patiently for something
- go to bed
- leave a play date
- say no to a party your child wants to attend
- say no to getting something your child wants
If you’d like more information on this topic and others, contact Inspirica Pros to inquire about working with Casey Horowitz privately.