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"children need boundaries" (is this true?)

post #1 of 135
Thread Starter 
I have heard over and over again that children need boundaries to feel secure. I feel like setting boundaries and gd dont always mesh. If my two year old hits one of his friends, I tell him, hitting hurts....please dont hit. ( I get this look from other parents ). If my son tries to take away a toy from another friend, I tell him, "your friend is sad because you took away his toy...can you please give it back....(ds runs off screaming, I run after him and tell him I need to give the toy back to friend because it's his). Again, I get from the other mothers.
So, in the above instances, was I setting boundaries? Are "boundaries" supposed to have greater consequences than just "please dont do that"?
I feel like since I've been using more gd, my mainstream friends look at me like "what are you going to do about that?" :
post #2 of 135
I don't think children need boundaries to feel secure, but all people need boundaries to maintain order and civilization. The examples you gave were setting boundaries. You made it clear that he should not hit or take other people's things. To me, no boundaries would mean everyone running around doing whatever he wanted with no thought to how his actions affected others. But boundaries don't have to mean punishment. I've never punished my children and they managed to learn boundaries just fine (well, some things are still being worked on, but for the most part they get the basics, even the 3 yr old).
post #3 of 135
Having boundaries doesn't mean you aren't GD. If you don't allow your child to run in the street, you are setting a boundary. If you don't want your child smashing the china on the floor, it's a boundary. If you don't give your child boundaries, you are telling them that they can do anything they want, and they probably will feel insecure, that you don't love them enough to keep them from harm.

So yes, you can have boundaries and still GD. Just enforce the boundaries with gentleness and love.
post #4 of 135
I think it really depends on the individual child. Really. A lot.

Some children do well with no, or very few, boundaries. For them, the best thing a parent can do is get out of their way.

Others seem to crave limits and boundaries, and if they don't get them, will anxiously or aggressively push hard to get some set for them.

I think overall there are more children in the second category, needing some limits, needing to know they are not always in charge and they can depend on someone else to keep them safe even though they don't act like they appreciate it much. I think its better to start with some boundaries and then ease up if the child doesn't seem to need them, than to start with few boundaries and have to try to "tighten up" after the child has already become fearful or aggressive.
post #5 of 135
I look at it this way: boundaries are things that a person sets around himself or herself - only. I set the boundaries about what is OK for me, and I have no right - or even ability - to set a boundary around another person. Not even my children.

For example: it is not OK to me to be hit. If DS were to whack me, he would most certainly be butting up against a boundary, but it would be one that I make known is mine.

For me to think that there is any way to impose a sort of invisible fence around another person and dictate what happens within it is folly. It's controlling, pure and simple. I control my sphere, and help DS learn about and express his sphere.

DS gets to set his boundaries too. He is a human after all, and has that right like all other humans. If he is making known to me that we a treading on or near one of his boundaries, we talk it out and find a solution that we are both (all) happy about.

Looking at it this way keeps my thinking in line with respecting DS's feelings. It's not that he gets his way all the time - who does? - but that he is in control of what feels OK to him, and expresses it. And perhpas most importantly, is heard.
post #6 of 135

boundries are around your self...

aira - that is EXACTLY what I am always trying to explain to people! Thank you for articulating it so perfectly, can I quote you?
post #7 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
I look at it this way: boundaries are things that a person sets around himself or herself - only. I set the boundaries about what is OK for me, and I have no right - or even ability - to set a boundary around another person. Not even my children.

For example: it is not OK to me to be hit. If DS were to whack me, he would most certainly be butting up against a boundary, but it would be one that I make known is mine.

For me to think that there is any way to impose a sort of invisible fence around another person and dictate what happens within it is folly. It's controlling, pure and simple. I control my sphere, and help DS learn about and express his sphere.

DS gets to set his boundaries too. He is a human after all, and has that right like all other humans. If he is making known to me that we a treading on or near one of his boundaries, we talk it out and find a solution that we are both (all) happy about.

Looking at it this way keeps my thinking in line with respecting DS's feelings. It's not that he gets his way all the time - who does? - but that he is in control of what feels OK to him, and expresses it. And perhpas most importantly, is heard.
But one person's boundary can't conflict with another person's boundary--in your hitting example, your right not to be hit is a boundary on your ds's behavior in that he does not have the right to hit you. Like the saying about how your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. And the boundary isn't just yours, because everyone has a right not to be hit, not just you, right? I mean you wouldn't tolerate hitting of someone else just because it wasn't you, would you? Aren't those universal boundaries of people's natural rights? Sorry if I'm missing your point here.
post #8 of 135
I believe that children need boundaries. Children who do not know what is expected of them are confused and miserable. The same applies when parents are inconsistent about boundaries.

I can say this with some authority...I remember it clearly from my own childhood.
post #9 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie
I think it really depends on the individual child. Really. A lot.

Some children do well with no, or very few, boundaries. For them, the best thing a parent can do is get out of their way.

Others seem to crave limits and boundaries, and if they don't get them, will anxiously or aggressively push hard to get some set for them.

I think overall there are more children in the second category, needing some limits, needing to know they are not always in charge and they can depend on someone else to keep them safe even though they don't act like they appreciate it much. I think its better to start with some boundaries and then ease up if the child doesn't seem to need them, than to start with few boundaries and have to try to "tighten up" after the child has already become fearful or aggressive.
:
Exactly. Bolding emphasis mine. You took the words RIGHT out of my mouth! I think it's up to us as parents to figure out what "kind" of kid we have....a kid that needs some boundaries and doesn't get them is going to be as bad off as a kid who needs more freedom and is restricted. I think if we're trying one way and it's not working, to try the other even if it seems unnatrual to us - after all, we're supposed to be listening to our children, not just stuck in some set way of doing things. Of course, either of the above ways can be done GENTLY.
post #10 of 135
Quote:
I look at it this way: boundaries are things that a person sets around himself or herself - only. I set the boundaries about what is OK for me, and I have no right - or even ability - to set a boundary around another person. Not even my children.

For example: it is not OK to me to be hit. If DS were to whack me, he would most certainly be butting up against a boundary, but it would be one that I make known is mine.

For me to think that there is any way to impose a sort of invisible fence around another person and dictate what happens within it is folly. It's controlling, pure and simple. I control my sphere, and help DS learn about and express his sphere.

DS gets to set his boundaries too. He is a human after all, and has that right like all other humans. If he is making known to me that we a treading on or near one of his boundaries, we talk it out and find a solution that we are both (all) happy about.

Looking at it this way keeps my thinking in line with respecting DS's feelings. It's not that he gets his way all the time - who does? - but that he is in control of what feels OK to him, and expresses it. And perhpas most importantly, is heard.
True dat.
post #11 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by mykdsmomy
I have heard over and over again that children need boundaries to feel secure. I feel like setting boundaries and gd dont always mesh. If my two year old hits one of his friends, I tell him, hitting hurts....please dont hit. ( I get this look from other parents ). If my son tries to take away a toy from another friend, I tell him, "your friend is sad because you took away his toy...can you please give it back....(ds runs off screaming, I run after him and tell him I need to give the toy back to friend because it's his). Again, I get from the other mothers.
So, in the above instances, was I setting boundaries? Are "boundaries" supposed to have greater consequences than just "please dont do that"?
I feel like since I've been using more gd, my mainstream friends look at me like "what are you going to do about that?" :
But you DID do something about it! You persisted with what you consider your ds's boundaries to be (taking toys from others is not okay), and I'm assuming here, but did the child get his/her toy back from your ds? I'm sorry those other moms aren't seeing the bigger picture, which is teaching your ds about being kind and respectful rather than teaching him that bigger people enforce rules with punishments. What did they WANT you do to? Freak out and make a huge deal out of typical toddler behavior? Sheesh.

In my opinion, when you give your ds information about what is okay and not okay, you ARE laying down boundaries. He will get it eventually, and I think it will happen without harsh punishments.
post #12 of 135
Yeah, children need boundaries, and in the examples in the OP, yes you were setting boundaries. You told your son not to hit and explained why. You removed the ill-gotten toy to its rightful owner. You just set boundaries in a different way than those mainstream mothers who roll their eyes.

I do believe children need boundaries. I have a friend whose son is extremely violent. She either ignores it, or tells him for the zillionth time why it's not cool to attack other children. For me, when talking isn't working, that is the time to make the boundary a little firmer. Time out, anyone? It would not be my first or second strategy for sure, but for this kid, he really needs some firm limits somewhere in his life. I believe he is looking for them, and they are nowhere to be found. I had to stop bringing my young child around this boy as his sole aim was to torture her.
post #13 of 135
Theskuldt, sure - no problem!

Brigianna, I don't really see universal boundaries here. But everyone who has an aversion to being hit has a personal boundary. If DS were to hit a stranger, I'd speak for that person, explaining that (s)he doesn't like it, etc...

Just as a counter example of why I don't see it as universal, DH and I practice martial arts. (I've mentioned this here before, but I see that you're new. ) We actually handle the hitting boundary in a very unususal manner. We turn it into play in a martial kind of way (I taught a kids' class for years...) and when the mood is cheerful, we talk about how other people don't want to play this way - only Mommy and Daddy, or in the dojo. And that we don't hit when angry, we talk. We've never had any problems with DS hitting. It's also noteworthy that we give him our utmost attention when he has a problem, and give him the language to express his feelings. That's a big part of it too. He never resorts to hitting in frustration.

So the conclusion here, is that yes, I think children need boundaries. Their own. They need to have parents who make their own boundries clear and consistent - and who facilitate the child in expressing his or her boundaries. And of course, respecting those boundaries with communication and negotiation.

How many times can I fit the word "boundaries" in one paragraph?
post #14 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Theskuldt, sure - no problem!

Brigianna, I don't really see universal boundaries here. But everyone who has an aversion to being hit has a personal boundary. If DS were to hit a stranger, I'd speak for that person, explaining that (s)he doesn't like it, etc...

Just as a counter example of why I don't see it as universal, DH and I practice martial arts. (I've mentioned this here before, but I see that you're new. ) We actually handle the hitting boundary in a very unususal manner. We turn it into play in a martial kind of way (I taught a kids' class for years...) and when the mood is cheerful, we talk about how other people don't want to play this way - only Mommy and Daddy, or in the dojo. And that we don't hit when angry, we talk. We've never had any problems with DS hitting. It's also noteworthy that we give him our utmost attention when he has a problem, and give him the language to express his feelings. That's a big part of it too. He never resorts to hitting in frustration.

So the conclusion here, is that yes, I think children need boundaries. Their own. They need to have parents who make their own boundries clear and consistent - and who facilitate the child in expressing his or her boundaries. And of course, respecting those boundaries with communication and negotiation.

How many times can I fit the word "boundaries" in one paragraph?
Okay but I still don't think I'm getting the distinction between setting boundaries around yourself and setting boundaries around other people. In your example you can be hit in a martial arts context because you consent to it, but it's still a universal right not to be hit non-consensually, right?

Sorry if I'm just being dense.
post #15 of 135
Well, I still don't agree that there are universal boundaries, but yes, I agree to be hit if I consent to it.

I suppose if you saying that there is a universal right not to have anything happen to someone without their consent, I certainly agree with that. But I don't think there are universal specifics that everyone has. Some people really like to be hit (consentually) to the point it hurts. Others think that's crazy. There are no blanket preferences, only guidelines that we all get to say what's OK for us.

I've got a little one climbing all over me and a scortching headache right now - sorry if I'm not making sense...
post #16 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Well, I still don't agree that there are universal boundaries, but yes, I agree to be hit if I consent to it.

I suppose if you saying that there is a universal right not to have anything happen to someone without their consent, I certainly agree with that. But I don't think there are universal specifics that everyone has. Some people really like to be hit (consentually) to the point it hurts. Others think that's crazy. There are no blanket preferences, only guidelines that we all get to say what's OK for us.

I've got a little one climbing all over me and a scortching headache right now - sorry if I'm not making sense...
Okay, I think we are saying the same thing but using different terms. I would consider having a universal right not to have something done to you without your consent to be a universal boundary. Each individual chooses how he will exercise that right, but no one has the right to violate it.
post #17 of 135
post #18 of 135
Havent' read the replies- I have to hurry and type while I'm not nak!
I don't think that kids "need boundaries to feel secure" per se.
I definitely don't think they need arbitrary boundaries or limits. They need to know what the real boundaries *are* (or rules, or whatever). They need to know what is acceptable and what is not, so they don't get caught offguard. I imagine most parents (at least here) make sure they communicate that type of info to their kids.
I have boundaries- I don't like to be hit, ds insn't allowed to come near the oven when its open, he can't drink my coffee (lol). And I think it is quite possible to enforce those types of boundaries in a gentle respectful way. I usually give info, then redirect (by giving acceptable related alternatives- that are fun, hopefully). That usually does it. I think kids (at least my ds) know when something is important and when its not. So arbitrary rules get met with much more resistance than true boundaries. Or if you try to set arbitrary boundaries often, you might get resistance to all of it. lol
I do also think that kids need parents to be in a position of authority. Not like "I'm the boss." More like not looking to your kid for guidance on how to raise him. But I also respect his opinion and when he gives it, and if he dissents to something that I'm doing to him, I generaly stop.

If your ds stopped hitting after you did what you did (whether he stopped of his own volition or you stopped him), then you set a boundary. There's no need to go further than giving info and redirecting (well, perhaps physically stopping the hitting if dc can't/won't stop). What did they expect you to do more than what you did? Punish?
post #19 of 135
I agree that children need boundaries. The reason (eloquently explained in The Continuum Concept) is that children are born aware that they are small and vulnerable and inexperienced, and they are wired to seek guidance and imitate the ways of their people. The boundaries should be observed by the whole family and taught to the child by example, rather than being imposed on the child by authority figures who are themselves "above" the rules.

Unfortunately, a lot of people say, "Children need boundaries," as justification for whatever they want to make kids do by whatever means.

Mykdsmomy, you ARE using boundaries in your discipline, and I think your gentle explanations are excellent. The only thing I would change is that in one of your examples, you are asking a question ("Can you please give it back?") where it probably would be more effective to use a gentle-but-firm statement ("That belongs to Michael. Give it back to him."). When you ask a question, it sounds like "no" is an acceptable answer.
post #20 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
Unfortunately, a lot of people say, "Children need boundaries," as justification for whatever they want to make kids do by whatever means.
Yes, I agree with this. My dd just had her 3 year old well-child visit, and the ped asked me if we were using time-out. I said no, we don't punish, and he told me that: "Children need boundaries."

I personally think it is ridiculous to try and dream up "extra" boundaries to enforce. Children have so many natural boundaries anyway, way more than we have as adults. There are so many things that are already out of their control. I agree w/EnviroBecca, we can teach them appropriate social behavior through modeling and occasionally pointing out or enforcing the "finer" points, without having to drive it home with a punishment or imposed consequence.

Having said this, I also want to disagree with BellinghamCrunchie and Donosmommy04 and say that it's not some children that need boundaries, it's some parents. Like me. In order for GD to work in my family, we use a more coercive, authoritative model. I am not a patient person, at all. My mother hit us a lot, and even though I hated it, and hate to admit it, the reflex to do the same to my children is still very strongly there. So we have a top-down family structure with lots of rules, and this keeps things pretty peaceful, for the most part, around here. I think that if I could maintain a healthy relationship with my children and have less coercion or less rules, they'd be fine, but this is the mom they got, and this is the way we make our relationships work.
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