Setting boundaries is HARD! It’s even harder when you know you’re kid is going to put up a fight… And then it’s like standing on the front lines of WWIII. You gird yourself for a full-blown assault and start to question your advancement.
Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Maybe I’m handling this all wrong. If I retreat now, I expose my weakness, but I don’t know what to do next? I know boundaries are important and an inevitable part of parenting (alas), but how do I respond when my kid refuses to accept the boundary and reacts aggressively in protest?
Here are 3 things to remember when imposing a boundary:
1. When you apply a boundary, be sure that it is in line with your values. T g at us, make sure that you have good cause for implementing the boundary, and it’s not just a reaction to your kids behavior.
2. When kids express opposition to boundaries, most parents jump to explain or rationalize the boundary when really, your kid is in no state to listen to, contemplate or consider your point if view. Quite frankly, your boundary is cramping their perception of reality and that can bring up some big emotions for them such as anger and futility and their behavior is showing it.
I get that you just want to make it stop and move on, but your kid needs your help to know that these feelings are normal (obviously your mad, and obviously you feel dis-empowered because you can’t do what you want!), and space to ride the wave to shore.
Most parents don’t recognize this reaction for what it is and try to fill the space like you might try to smother a fire. Instead, try to MAKE space for the inevitable reaction; literally imagine in your head that you’re taking a step back to make room for your kid.
When you can accept your kids’ reaction, you are giving them the opportunity to recognize AND regulate their big emotions which helps them, over time, to feel more secure, confident and content in their relationships with themselves, others and the world at large.
3. For many, if us, making space for our kids’ big emotions is challenging because their big emotions trigger our big emotions. Most of us didn’t have the parents that we aspire to be and lack the emotional awareness and acceptance necessary to recognize, understand and tolerate our big emotions. So if you struggle to MAKE SPACE for your kids’ reactions to your boundaries, that means that you need to turn your attention inwards and make space for your OWN emotional reactions. And just as you would with your child, extend to YOURSELF a heaping measure of openness, curiosity and compassion.
If you struggle to set boundaries that work, feel overwhelmed by your kids’ emotions and want to feel calmer in your day to day interactions, join me for a very special 12-week program beginning November 18th and meeting every Monday from 9-10:30 am in Talpiot, Jerusalem. For more information check out www.parentwithconfidencecourse.com or send me a message and let’s chat!