Children and Boundaries
Children need boundaries in
all areas of their lives. Having boundaries is
a way of teaching a child that society has rules and consequences for breaking them. It is a way
of letting a child know that they must develop self-control and be accountable for their actions. Children do not have
answers, experience or resources to draw from like adults do. They have "on the spot" "in the moment" thinking skills
and don't always have the capacity to think ahead or know right from wrong until they are spanked for something they weren't
A good example of this is when a child just runs across the street
without thinking or tries to touch a hot stove. Leaving those things up to a child can bring serious consequences.
Stopping them ahead of time by having boundaries shows that child that we care enough to show them right from wrong.
Demonstrating love with boundaries starts a pattern of critical thinking for that child. When left to make a decision
they not only have themselves to think of but also the adults in their lives. Children want to know you have their best
interest in mind. They desire to know you have their back. When they sense you don't, they act out and misbehave
Today's politically correct world has found its way into classrooms
and the homes of many children. There has been a trend in schools where students are not respecting their teachers.
This may stem from weak or unestablished boundaries. Teachers and parents must have clear rules setup that are easy
to follow and reasonable for a child to understand. Not having boundaries is a way of telling a child to figure out
these things on their own and when they mess up don't be fearful, angry, or resentful towards me when I reprimand
you. I don't really care about you, I care more about your mistakes is the message they get.
Put in simpler terms, boundaries is a way of protecting your own child
or student. It is a way of meeting a child's emotional, security, and saftey needs. Not too long ago I was at
Bush Gardens and witnessed a young girl who had separated from her family. She was hysterical and the look on her eyes
showed terror. She yelled for her mommy and looked desperately for her. I paused for a minute and thought I need
to help her she is so young. My parenting instincts took over. She found her mom and wailed for a moment. Her
mom held her close and let her know not to run off again. Afterwards she remembered she was at Bush Gardens and
all was safe with mommy.
In a sense that is what children feel at times when we are not close
to them to give them immediate comfort, support or direction. Even if they don't verbalize it or resist it they need
our immediate correction and support in a moments notice. Unfortunately in today's society where both parents are working,
children are coming home to empty homes or spending a lot of time in after school programs. Sometimes these places are
under staffed and children are not being nurtured as a closely as they should be for proper growth and development.
Teachers are bearing the brunt of this responsibility.
I have spoken to many parents and have been surprised to hear them
say they don't believe in consequences for their children. They feel children will eventually learn on their own.
Big mistake. It is no wonder children are coming to school bewildered, anxious and uncontrolled. It is my belief
that if children were taught more about self-control and consequences we would not have such a need for medicines to control
them. In the old days parents were much stricter and let children know right away when they were out of line. There
was no question who was in charge. Not having boundaries confuses a child as to who really is in charge.
We can observe the animal world and learn from watching a family of
elephants. The pack gathers and surrounds the baby elephant never taking their eyes off or leaving sight. They
have established themselves as the boundary and let that baby know you are safe and secure.
Boundaries are a way of showing love, keeping order, respect and values.
Show me a dysfunctional classroom or home and I'll show you a home or classroom with no boundaries. A home is an important
place to begin teaching the importance of drawing the line. A child who observes mom and dad demonstrating boundaries
with one another learns early on that mom and dad loves them too when corrected. Children experience a host of emotions
when left to fend for themsleves. Many values and lessons can be taught by making sure there are rules and guidelines
in the classroom and at home. It may take time to sit and think of new ones if they aren't established, but once they
are put in place they must be consistent and without negotiation.
If you find yourself having issues with children concerning behavior
and problems with following rules, reevaluate your classrooms or homes boundaries. This formula will motivate a child
to listen, respect and learn the real lesson that boundaries is all about: love and respect. It is a magical formula
that works in the classroom and at home.
Dr. DelValle, Ph.D.
For help with your classroom or home contact us for assistance.