Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Children (4)
By: Beth McHugh 2008
The process of setting healthy boundaries in your child starts very early in life. By the time a child can say “No” he or she has long grasped the concept of personal boundaries and so it is the responsibility of the parent to let their child know one very important concept: They can’t have everything.
It can be hard to say “no” to a pair of beseeching eyes but it is up to you, the parent, to be the strong one in this parent-child relationship into which you have entered. It is so easy to fall into the trap of taking the easy way out and saying “yes”. Or worse, saying “yes” to all your child’s requests because you want to be loved by your child and you fear rejection. The irony is that, the more you say “yes,” the greater the possibility of rejection further down the track.
It’s so easy to give that little toy to your darling but you are doing your child a huge disservice. Remember, you can’t control everything. In the future, your child must learn that only one kid can be school captain per year, that their best friend may move away and there is nothing they can do about it, that their pet will die, that the man or woman they fancy in later life doesn’t love them back. That their spouse cheated on them.
How will they cope with life’s inevitable pains if they have never learned how to deal with the word “No” in regard to insignificant things such as the latest toy advertised on television? How will they ever learn to respect they own belongings and those of others if they do not know the value of money because everything was handed to them on a plate?
Healthy boundaries mean healthy self-esteem, something that we all want for our children. Learning to say “no” to your children helps them, in turn, to learn to say “no” to their peers. When your children witness you setting healthy boundaries with both them and the people in your life, they are learning how to do it for themselves. When they watch you respect yourself and respect them, they learn to respect themselves and others. That is what we all want for our children. That is the greatest gift we can give our children: a healthy sense of self-respect.