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The benefits of boundaries

Setting boundaries is always beneficial when it comes to family life and relationships, but during unsettled times filled with uncertainty, boundaries become even more important particularly for our children. For those households enduring another period of lockdown, clear boundaries are an absolute necessity when it comes to spending time together 24/7.

Here are some ideas on how we can set boundaries:

1. Space related boundaries

When you have all family members at home every day, it’s important to learn to respect each other’s personal space. This is vital for you as a parent to still feel like you can take those five minutes away from parenting, home learning, work or a partner. It’s also important for your children to be able to signal when they need time out, time on their own or a rest. Having a shared understanding that a closed door is an indicator that the person is busy or even making your own ‘Do not disturb’ or ‘Come in’ signs for the whole family to use can serve as a visual way of asserting space boundaries.

2. Value the feeling while firmly setting the boundary

It’s likely that all family members will feel big emotions at certain times; frustration and irritation to name a few. We can empathise with our children and recognise their feelings whilst still firmly setting a boundary. “You’re allowed to feel frustrated about X, you’re not allowed to kick your brother”.

family with family sign

3. Boundaries are there to keep your child safe

Although it can feel tough when setting boundaries and putting limits and expectations in place, we must remember these very boundaries are helping our child feel safe in this uncertain time. For many, the structure and normality of school and day to day life has been taken from them and although you might not see it in their response, firm and consistent boundaries set with warmth are the very thing that will help them cope with this uncertainty.

4. Focus on how the boundary protects your child

When we set a boundary as a parent we can get drawn into trying to convince our child (or others) on why the boundary exists. When the boundary is met with protest it can easily shake our confidence in whether the boundary was necessary or fair. Learn to hold the boundaries you set with confidence, knowing that they are there to protect your child. Your child’s protest and response are completely separate from the worthiness of the boundary itself.

5. Boundaries for you as well as them

When we think of boundaries our first thought might be about setting them for our children. Learning to set and stick to personal boundaries for ourselves are just as important, particularly at this time. Whether it’s learning to say no more, learning to be less available just because you are working from home, switching off the incessant WhatsApp chats or limiting your news intake, do what you need to do in order to be your best self while you manage these demands.

Louise’s recent IGTV on this topic can be found here.

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