Empowering Children with Their Boundaries
We have to embrace our children’s boundaries, even when (and especially when) they make us uncomfortable. The major struggles I experience and hear of most are on the topics of sharing, saying sorry, and hugging.
There are a couple of reasons I don’t believe in this. One is because I don’t believe we should interrupt play. Here we allow for focus to grow and creativity/curiosity to flourish. I also believe we need to strengthen a child’s delayed gratification. This is a trait we don’t see much of any more in our society. I share what I say and alternative options to sharing in the audio link.
We force our children to apologize and comply, making them rehearse an empty script that they don’t quite believe in/understand, and aren’t emotionally ready for. In the audio, I share with you the steps I take to walk my children through a conflict without extending an apology. We miss the opportunity to develop and model empathy when we force a quick “sorry” and move on.
This is perhaps the hardest one for “traditional” families to wrap their heads around. We believe that in order to respect the elders in our family, we must share our love through physical affection. However when a child isn’t willing (for whatever reason!) we must learn to sit in our own discomfort and still advocate for them. Again, I share practical examples and alternatives on how to do just that. In the end, we don’t teach a child to be respectful by disrespecting them. Our primary goal is to remind our children they are safe and supported in their “no.”
Often we parent from a place of fear (will they like me? Am I good enough? I don’t want to upset them!) however this is at the cost of our child- and it’s not worth it. In order to make a conscious shift in our own parenting, we must learn to challenge our old habits, and become aware of our deepest fears and insecurities that tend to lead our parenting choices. It’s not our child’s responsibility to fix or carry that work for us, but they will, if we don’t.
Instead, we can do the work to model what we hope to teach our children. We can accept that children don’t need coercion, force or threats to behave, despite what our fears tell us. Over time we learn to trust innately that our children are good, and only need us to accept them radically, love them hard, and remind them of this goodness.
Take a listen to the (unedited) LIVE audio on Boundaries with Children: Sharing, Sorry and Hugging if you’re ready to make the shift.
Yours in healing,