What do you say to yourself when you feel you are running out of patience? That you must try harder? That you are letting down your children? If you are reading this, I’m pretty sure you are trying pretty hard as it is, and you give so much to your children already. How about this question? What simple boundary would help me feel empowered to give my best self to my children? Could it be…
Being able to finish your cup of tea?
To have a lie-in now and then?
To not be spoken to in a certain manner?
Here are two reasons why setting boundaries with children can feel so alien to us. When our children are newborns, they depend on us for survival. We start off with the mindset of doing EVERYTHING for them. As they grow, though, they can do more for themselves. And it’s good for them! But when we are busy juggling 47 plates, we might not feel like we have the luxury to pause and check in with how much our children have grown recently. I think it’s one of those ongoing challenges that we as parents face. We don’t set boundaries because we are in the habit of doing certain things for our children, and it can seem like too much effort to change that. Another reason that makes it more difficult to set boundaries could be our own experience growing up - we might have experienced our caregivers becoming scary when it came to setting boundaries, or maybe they didn’t set boundaries at all. If you didn’t like any meal - they would give you something else. If you felt like watching TV for hours - there was nobody there to tell you to turn it off. Either way, you did not experience kind, caring, respectful boundaries being set for you. And now, on some level, you equate boundaries with conflict or abandonment. It does not have to be that way. Setting boundaries with our children can be one of the most loving and caring things we can do for ourselves and our children. Clear boundaries can boost our sense of confidence and comfort. Boundaries help can help our children feel safe and trust that we can manage difficult situations and that we’ll still be there for them when the going gets tough. So… What simple boundary would help you feel empowered to give your best self to your children?
P.s. If you would like more ideas for nurturing your unique connection with your child have a look at the Circle of Security Parenting course.