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Helping children to understand appropriate boundaries.

Updated on March 17, 2011

Why setting boundaries for our children is important.

Setting appropriate boundaries for our children is important for them to be safe and to feel safe. We all tell our children "Look after yourself and keep out of and away from potential danger and not to talk to strangers", so for our children to respond appropriately to this message they absolutely MUST fully understand their set boundaries and accept them, be able to protect themselves from physical harm as well as emotional harm. So do you now see why boundaries are essential for children?

For children to be safe and to feel safe, they must be given boundaries and a clear understanding of what boundaries help to achieve so that they accept the boundaries which you set for them. Once children have this understanding, they are more likely to be able to make decisions and to take action to live within the boundaries which you set for them.<

For you to set the appropriate boundaries for your children it is equally important that you also have a clear understanding of why boundaries are important for our children, what boundaries are normal and acceptable for both you as well as your children and how to adapt boundaries according to the ages of your children. You need to consider setting boundaries which help their development, social skills, and culture as well as family boundaries. Remember that the reason you are settting boundaries for your children is to help them to be and to gfeel safe and not to make your life keep to the point and set realistic boundaries for realistic reasons.

I am writing this lens because as a widow and a single Mum of three children of varying ages, I have now had 23 years of experience of setting appropriate boundaries for my own children...all of which have been accepted as being "just" by them, I'l even go as far as saying that I have been asked by a number of friends to explain to their children the importance of boundaries and what their boundaries shall be, much to the relief of the children that had been given very strict, over-the-top boundaries as well as those who had been given boundaries which were too lack and inappropriate by parents that were too laid-back. So yep, I am the expert on setting appropriate boundaries that both children and adults accept as necessary if you

Developmental Boundaries.

As children grow and develop, their emotional, social and physical boundaries change. Whilst a child is in pre-school there may be many people involved in their physical care: dressing them, feeding them and bathing them. People from outside their family may at times, play with them. Occasionally admiring strangers may touch them or hold them. As the child grows older they will become more discriminating and will start to set boundaries of their own. They will beging to express their wishes about who should meet their social, physical and emotional needs.

As a child begins to set their own boundaries, others are likely to become more respectful and less intrusive, particular with regard to the childs intimate needs. Certainly, children aged four or five are generally less accepting of strangers and do not like them intruding on their emotional or physical space. Children in this age group are unlikely to be comfortable if a stranger gives them a hug or offers to take them to the toilet.

Developmentally appropriate changes to boundaries occur right through childhood and into adulthood, when intimate physical experiences are limited to partners, boyfriends and girlfriends.

When teaching protective behaviours, we must take into account of those boundaries which are developmentally appropriate.

It is also important for a child to understand that behaviours which may not be acceptable now may become deemed as acceptable for them later on as they get older, not forgetting that similarly, boundaries and behaviours that are acceptable now may not be acceptable as they grow older.



Help For Setting Boundaries For Your Children

It isn't always easy being a parent is it! Knowing what is appropriate behaviour and where to draw your line can be difficult for parents I know, this is mainly because as parents we tend to love unconditionally...which is fantastic but can also be dangerous for your children unless you know where to draw the line.

No, it is never too late to introduce boundaries for your children...that would be like saying that it is too late to start keeping them as safe as you possibly can.

Keeping your children safe without instilling them if you try to protect them too much and in yourself if you don't protect them enough.

There is no point in setting boundaries unless you and your children understand precisely why they are being set. "Getting it right" is not as simple as telling your children that unless they abide by your rules they will face your punishment, nor is it a case of leaving them to find out where you draw the line by waiting for them to cross it...both of these are DANGEROUS FOR YOUR CHILD.

I have listed five excellent books below which are available to buy on Amazon, they are all reasonably priced and totally affordable for everyone either as new or used. Do not leave it to chance to make sure your children are safe, learning through trial and error IS NOT an option.

Join Me In My Debate About Parenting. - I am curious as to what parents think their role of Mummy or Daddy or like myself both Mummy & Daddy involves.

Please join me in this "role of parenting" duel debate as I hear so many parents who have their own views of what their role is towards their children which often astounds me.

Maybe it is me but I have a firm instilled belief about my parenting role which differs a great deal from that of my friends.

Iam not wanting to criticise anybody for what they think the role of a parent should be and this debate is solely to show everyone that there may not be a "right way" or a "wrong way" to being a good parent.

However, I also want some parents to think a little bit before joining this duel...those of you not wishing to take part I can only assume that you may be one of those parents that fall into another category of parenting altogether than the two above, which is almost worded the same but so not the same at all. Maybe you think there is not a "right way" or a "wrong way" to being a bad parent is the same thing?

What is involved in your role of being a "good parent"?

Family Boundaries.


Most family boundaries are handed down from generation to generation. What was deemed as acceptable in a Mothers and in a Fathers family is likely to be acceptable within their own family, maybe even a combination of both. However, problems sometimes arise where a Mother and Father come from families with different attitudes and standards. It may be interesting for you to think about your own family and identify which boundaries and standards have been handed down from a past generation and which ones are new.

Families are very different right across the board, from those which are disengaged with very tight, strict standards and boundaries at one extreme, to those at the opposite extreme, which are laid back, where anything goes and the boundaries are so lax that it may be difficult to tell exactly what they are...if any.

In a disengaged family, the family is generally seen to be an independent family, which as a group does not socialise much with outsiders. Individuals within the family may function fairly independently and there may be little or no communication with the other family members.

By contrast, many families with a laid-back attitude live more of a community type of lifestyle. They extend their family to include relationships with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends, and may frequently get together in large family gatherings. Children in such families may freely and easily spend time with any of the members of their extended family. Possessions may be shared, holidays may often be taken together, and in times of need distant family members may be approached for help. Some people clearly enjoy the atmosphere of having an extended family. However for some people the lack of clear, set boundaries can be confusing and even be deemed as being overwhelming.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of getting the blance between these two extremes just right, as either of them as they are may set a child up for failure. Developing strategies and maintaining sensible boundaries that provide safety which will also be acceptable in your family environment makes for a happier child who feels safe, which gives your child all the things they require to be successful.

Children learn what they live.

Children learn what they live is a poem by Dorothy Law Nolte.

I remember this poem hanging in the office of my Headmistress at Primary School & although I cannot recite the poem word for word, I can still remember parts of the poem which have remained with me ever since.

I am sure that many of you have heard of this poem before &, as I do, remember parts of the poem because of how true it is !

If only children came with this poem at birth.

Social Boundaries.

Social boundaries are those boundaries which are generally accepted as being socially adequate in the society in which we live, things like good manners and not breakin g the law are two examples of social boundaries. Some of the most important of these boundaries are enshrined in legislation. For example, there are laws which prohibit the expression of a variety of behaviours in public. Physical assault on one person by another is illegal. A sexual relationship between an adult and a child is illegal.

Social boundaries are most likely to be violated when family and cultural boundaries are strong, pervasive and different from socially accepted norms. It is important for both parents and children to recognise differences between social and family expectations so that sensible decisions can be made with regard to appropriate boundaries.


Cultural Boundaries.

Cultural boundaries are based upon beliefs and values specific to a particular cultural or religious setting. People in different parts of the world have very different values and attitudes with regard to appropriate child behaviours and with regard to to appropriate parenting strategies. That which is deemed as permissable sexually and physically varies from culture to culture. similarly, differences in what are considered to be appropriate boundaries are evident between people from different religions and between people who are religious and those who are not.

Violation of cultural boundaries often has social consequences and therefore can result in significant emotional trauma. clearly, we all have our own personal values and should use whatever opportunities we have to create a fairer and happier world

All lensmasters like to receive comments about their lenses and I am no exception. Please leave me a little something to let me know that you have visited this lens of mine today, any views or comments which you may have as to the contents or subject of my they either for or against...I'm a big girl, I can take it.

Lastly, may I thank you for reading my lens to the end...I really do appreciate that very, very much indeedy!


Let me know that you have visited my lens today.

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @Alfiesgirl LM: Liked it. Glas to have found it &amp; u. Would love to learnmore &amp; share some. Im 60 tthough so guess will discuss with grandkids if that ever happens or. Another subject. Thanks &amp; good luck. Feel free to respond directly too.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for this insightful and helpful post, also for the links to the books which I have added to my kindle!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You have a lot of wisdom that you have shared here. Kids need to have boundaries, I believe children are much happier when they know their boundaries. Plus, we do need to teach them how to protect them self while enjoying life. - Great information!

    • Alfiesgirl LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfiesgirl LM 

      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you for dropping by ...I wish you all the very best with your new baby and know that you will be a supertastic Mummy because I know your Mum and she is supertastic too...x

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      interesting read..... im not actually a parent yet.... but will be by sept this year! will take a few pointers on board :)

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      8 years ago

      A very interesting discussion about a sensitive subject.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Lens. You handle a difficult subject very well.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Very important topic for parents and grandparents. Good resources here too!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for this great advice on setting boundaries for children. Thumbs up!


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