Are Boundaries With Toddlers Even Possible?

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We’ve all heard about how boundaries are healthy. It’s important to set your personal boundaries with people — be it family members, your partner, strangers, or even your toddlers! Yes, you heard us right. You need to set boundaries with your toddlers, too, because children love to test boundaries, whether they are infants, toddlers, or teenagers. As parents, it’s something you probably don’t worry too much about yourself. You tell yourself that they don’t understand such conventions yet, and you probably let it slide. But that can cause more harm than good. Your toddler might not understand that they push your boundaries because you didn’t set any with them in the first place. So, can you really blame them?

You might think it’s impossible to set boundaries with toddlers because they are too young to understand, but research shows that it’s essential to do so (1). Your child needs to learn that rules set by you, as parents, are something they have to abide by. These rules and limits that you set for them, after all, are for their own good and will help them in their daily lives. It’s healthy to start young and establish these limits, so your child learns to respect boundaries. You might be wondering how to set boundaries with a toddler or if it’s even possible. We are here to tell you that it is. Scroll below to find out how you can achieve it.

Boundaries Make You A Better Parent

Boundaries Make You A Better Parent

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Most parents mirror their parents’ parenting styles. Consciously or not, most of your parenting pattern comes from how you were raised, except those few specific ones that drove you mad — don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Therefore, if your parents did not establish healthy boundaries with you growing up, the concept would seem bizarre.

However, it’s essential to introduce the concept of healthy boundaries with your kids. It prevents you from reaching peaks of saturation and having time to rejuvenate when you’re exhausted. As a parent, you probably find it super hard to carve out some time for yourself because you’re constantly taking care of your toddler. But not investing some time in self-care and relaxation can have an adverse effect on your parenting behavior. Therefore, setting healthy boundaries makes you a better parent.

How To Decide Which Habits You Want To Put Boundaries On

How To Decide Which Habits You Want To Put Boundaries On

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Before starting out setting limits and boundaries on your child’s activities, it would be prudent to map out exactly what you expect them to do. If you keep nagging them in every little activity of theirs, they will get the idea that their parents are just trying to squeeze the fun out of their lives. So, even though they might listen to your orders, it’s going to be more of a superficial habit.

Sit with your partner and have a discussion on which areas you really want to help your child with. It could be your child’s eating habits, activities they engage in, screen time or anything that you have observed to be needing boundaries and limitations. Once you have figured such areas, start strategizing on how you plan to address them. This way you will set clear achievable goals and know exactly exactly where you stand in terms of your progress.

How To Set Healthy Boundaries

How To Set Healthy Boundaries

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Sure, boundaries are essential and healthy, but how do you establish them with your toddler? Well, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind. Firstly, be clear and effective with your communication. Let your kids know well in advance that they need to do something. For example, tell your child to switch off the television and head to bed after 30 minutes. Give them a warning or countdown when it’s almost time so that your kid knows what to expect when the time is over. There will be fewer fights and tantrums when you turn off the television after the stipulated time compared to doing it abruptly without any warnings.

Secondly, stick to your word. Boundaries are useless if they are not maintained. Be strict with them and ensure your kid follows them. Be consistent with your word and avoid switching up the rules often. It might confuse your kid and make them not want to take you seriously.

What To Do If Your Child Doesn’t Abide By The Boundaries

What To Do If Your Child Doesn't Abide By The Boundaries

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So you’ve tried your best at setting boundaries but your child is refusing to abide by them; what to do in such situations? You’ll have to understand that you can’t really expect your child to be so obsequious. And habit formation is a gradual and time taking process. They may follow some of your advice instantly, while for others they might outright refuse and take a long time before starting to follow.

So, even if they refuse to respect a certain boundary, don’t be disheartened. Keep your end of the bargain and push your agenda in subtle ways. Gradually, they may see the reason for your argument and bring about slow changes. In fact, it’s the better way when they abide by your boundaries because they themselves understand their importance instead of just blindly following them out of fear.

Keep It Positive

Keep It Positive

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Not all boundaries are bad. Some are healthy and even necessary. Therefore, when you’re establishing a boundary with your little one, keep it positive. Avoid giving in to their tantrums and try a different approach. For example, if they don’t like the food served to them, teach them that it’s okay to eat it later. Instead of throwing the food, tell them that you’ll save it for tomorrow when you feel prepared to eat it.

Not giving in to your child’s tantrums teaches them that it doesn’t work. They will eventually stop throwing tantrums when it stops working. Teaching your toddlers some boundaries is a great way to establish a healthy pattern right from childhood. Lastly, remember that it’s okay if they slip a little and mess up with their boundaries — we do too. Have you considered setting healthy boundaries with your toddlers? Comment below and let us know!

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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