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Setting Boundaries For Children
 by: Dr. Eli Saggie (Ph.D)

Step 1: Deciding on the boundaries

•Firs, the parents should sit down and make a list of all laws and boundaries' they want to apply at their home. If you do not believe that you'll be able to be consistent and committed to enforcing the law, you should take it off the list. The list should not be long. If it will be long, than you as a parent will not be able to enforce it and the child may be spiritually broken.

•Take a look at the list, and decided in advance what laws and borders will justify physical force if the child will not cooperate with them. Usually, these rules apply to life-threatening situations, such as taking medicines, touching electrical outlets, etc.

•Inform all the children about the laws and borders at your home and the reason for their existence. The reason should be given in order to have the child understand that there is a rational behind them and that they are not arbitrarily. The explanation should take up to 10 seconds! Beyond that, the child may get confused and it might imply that you as a parent are not clear with that law.

•Keep in mind: the boundary is to the behavior of the child and not to the feeling (example: you can be angry but you can not hit. You can talk, explain etc.

Step 2: Peaceful boundary enforcement.

•Give a reminder first. For instance: at the end of this game we will eat. After the story it's time to brush the teeth.

•Ask the child to OK your request. Make sure he listened to you. Children do not like to carry out instructions on the spot.

•When the time comes, ask the child to carry out what he agreed to

•If the child does not cooperate:

◦Get down the child's eye level to ensure attention

◦Mention that in your home, you honor agreements

◦Mention the law/boundary and rationale (for example: it is important to brush your teeth because...

◦Offer two alternatives/ways to perform the task. By choosing one of them, the child will have a feeling that he is in control. For example: Do you want to go like a bear walks or jump like a frog? With infants in particular, this approach works great!

◦If the child was still does not cooperate, check with yourself: Is it a boundary that requires physical intervention? If yes, force it. If not, express dissatisfaction with the irresponsible behavior (10 seconds!) and leave the child and the subject. In most cases, the child will comply!

•When the child cooperates, give positive feedback/encouragement (again, up to 10 seconds).

When setting a boundary to an unwanted behavior, remind the boundary and suggest an expectable alternative: For example: You don't throw a camera. You can throw a ball to the basket.

It is better to tell children what they can do, and not just what they can't do!

About The Author

Dr. Eli Saggie (Ph.D)- Psychotherapist.

Short Term Psychotherapy and Parental guidance.

Author of the book "Children are Joy"- A guide to successful parenting at early childhood.

Columnists, Advisor for a "Parents & Children" magazine.

Private Clinic: Israel, Ramat Hasharom, Tel: 972-52-3204949
The author invites you to visit:


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