There used to be a day when just about every kid had clear-cut boundaries. Crossing those boundaries brought consequences that were not so pleasant. Things are different today. Most kids have fewer boundaries than their grandparents and great grandparents had growing up. Some have no boundaries at all.
A lack of boundaries is not good for a child. In fact, boundaries are a necessary part of helping a child become a well-adjusted adult. Perhaps that’s why adolescent counseling experts so frequently recommend setting clear and distinct boundaries. They know that kids with boundaries are happy kids.
Relationship & More is a New York clinic with offices located in Westchester County. Among other things, they offer adolescent counseling. They agree that boundaries are good for kids. Here’s why:
Boundaries Create Safety
It is no surprise when kids believe their parents set boundaries just to spoil their fun. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of the boundaries that parents set are safety issues. For example, there is a reason Mrs. Smith’s eight-year-old is not allowed to touch the kitchen knives. The child doesn’t know how to safely use a knife. One wrong move and they could lose a finger.
Children do not have the life experience their parents have. They don’t see danger as easily. And because they do not see danger, they don’t know enough to be safe. They need boundaries to do what they cannot do for themselves.
Boundaries Create Confidence
Nothing discourages a child more than not knowing where they stand. Without clear boundaries, a child can never be sure whether mom and dad are pleased or displeased. And without such assurances, it is very difficult for a child to build healthy self-confidence.
On the other hand, boundaries let a child know where they stand at all times. They know mom and dad are pleased when they stay inside established boundaries. As long as they do so, they can be confident in them self. The more confidence they gain, the better off they will be.
Boundaries Create Stability
A life without boundaries is an unstable life. And without stability, children have a natural tendency to try to maintain control. If mom and dad don’t provide stability, a child is left to create their own. They do whatever they deem necessary to get what they want.
The most out-of-control kids in the world are those without boundaries. As much as they try to control the world around them, they cannot. Moreover, they don’t know that they can’t. So along with being out of control, these kids are terribly unhappy as well.
Boundaries Create Order
At the root of everything boundary-related is the concept of order. Most adults have a strong desire for order even if they don’t manage to pull off in their own lives. Kids are a little bit different. Not only do they desire order, but they also thrive on it. That’s why boundaries are so essential. They create the order that children need to grow into healthy, responsible, and stable adults.
Whether you’re trying to create safety, confidence, or stability for your children, it’s all about order. Where order is present, kids are safe. Where there is order there is confidence and stability. On the other hand, all three are missing when there is no order.
There is a tendency among modern parents to dismiss the idea of boundaries. Parents would rather their children behave more like free roaming cattle. But reality has proven time and again that children need boundaries. To deny it is not only to harm children, but also to deny human nature.