Setting Boundaries For Children: 5 Musts To Know


“You have to say NO to a lot of Good things in order to say YES to a lot of Great things”

No one like rules, discipline or boundaries. They make us feel trapped and not in control of things, then why do we want our kids to have boundaries, rules or limits? Why can’t we let them decide, run free or learn by their mistakes? I used to feel terrible when as a teenager I was not allowed to go out after a certain time in the evening or not watch TV before finishing my homework. I hated those rules and sometimes my parents too ( they knew it) and I used to tell my 16 year old self that if I ever have kids I am going to let them do whatever they would want to do or wherever they would want to go. Long story short, now I have a twelve years old who hates me!!

Boundaries, discipline and limits are also not the most favourite part of parenting and are a nightmare to follow in most of the cases but the fact that it can help our kids grow and learn much more than the attachment parenting or permissive parenting can ever do, not to forget researches and psychologists of all ages have strongly advocated in favour of them makes us parent do it. Boundaries help children learn the rules, the social skills, self control, negotiations and most of all the respect for the parent.


I know for a fact that the best gift you can give your child is the rules and the discipline, they might hate you today but they will love you tomorrow. But is there a way to set these boundaries or rules in such a way that they evoke love, respect and understanding from your children in the place of resistance and stubbornness. Yes, there is. Not only one but several others that can help you set boundaries without disturbing the normal temperature of the house.

Do it early- As early as possible

This means that the boundaries have to be set as early as possible to avoid resistance later on. From the word go, the children should know where to draw the line because if you do it later you would be faced with a lot of confrontations and conflicts while on the other hand if you set the limits initially and gradually keep giving more freedom, children will appreciate you more. For example you get a new iPad and realise after a week that the child is literally spending all waking hours on it. You come in motion and declare that from now on he will be allowed to play on it for only one hour. The result? A Lot of drama and tantrums. Could have been easily avoided it the expectations were set from the beginning. Little girl and a tablet

Rules should be uncomplicated, easy to comply and age appropriate

While it is ok for an 8 year old to be not allowed to go to a birthday party all alone, the same could mean the end of the world for a teenager. Confusing and ambiguous rules can make it hard for the children to understand and thus follow. For example keeping different time slots for studies based on your own schedule and other social obligations can confuse the child. Keep it such that it is the same every day except for rare occasions.

Be fair and learn to use empathy

The only thing that can help your rules to be followed without much hue and cry is your ability to be fair and empathise with your child. It is easier to stick to your guns and not let him watch more TV than set out initially but when you know it is the world cup and you have a football crazy 12 year old at home, than it is always good to be a little flexible, offer empathy and fine tune your rules a little. Use empathy and explain your rules. It’s always good to tell them that you are on their side. For example if your child is throwing tantrum in the supermarket, you can bring him back home but instead of shouting, you can say that you are sorry that he could not control himself there and once he knows how to behave better, they can go again. It may be physically exhausting but the long term results can outweigh the short term exertion. kid-tv-378362

Be consistent

Just because you are on phone with an old friend for 2 hours, your children should not be made to watch TV for longer than their usual TV time. If you have a rule for one pizza a week than you should not be doing it more than that just because you don’t feel like cooking. There should not be different rules for different days and consistency should be maintained. kids-at-home

Be a follower of rules yourself

Your child is seeing you, watching you, your words your actions and if he is not allowed to play violent video games than you should not be watching ‘Die Hard’ in living room. It makes them cringe and makes you look hypocrite. While we all know being parents we can handle the violence but if you can do it when they are off to bed would help in resolving lot of possible emotional conflicts. Another example is using cuss words, shouting, and fighting amongst yourself. If you punish your child for fighting with his sibling or using bad words that you should watch your actions too because they are seeing you and learning from your actions.




  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on parenting.

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