November – Asset #11, Family Boundaries
by Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch
In last month’s Positively Speaking column I introduced a discussion about family boundaries and the impact they can play in child behavior. I regularly have the opportunity to witness master teachers at work, so I know how simple strategies can sometimes change a child’s interaction with adults or other children.
Search Institute has identified Family Boundaries as one of the 40 Developmental Assets, which means research shows it’s a characteristic of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future. Search defines family boundaries for young children as: “The family provides consistent supervision for the child and maintains reasonable guidelines for behavior that the child can understand and achieve.”
Parents that learn to establish these boundaries tend to raise children that can adjust in social situations. And those who consistently follow through with caring and logical consequences for children that choose not to follow rules, tend to experience happier family interactions. Here are some classic strategies for establishing family boundaries:
Find a way to say “yes”. Rather than saying “no”, consider responding to child’s request in a positive way, which reinforces your expectations:
- “I would be happy to listen to you as soon as your voice sounds like mine.”
- “That will be a fun game to play after you’ve picked up your room.”
- “I’m sure Jenny will be thrilled to hear you can play with her as soon as you’ve finished lunch.”
Ask questions, rather than scolding or making statements. When a child tattles or whines ask:
- “How do you feel?”
- “What will you do next?”
- “I wonder why?”
Use a “cool-down” spot where your child can gather his/her thoughts and consider what to do. Rather than a punishment, this can be a tool for a child to manage his or her own behavior. No more than one minute per year of age is usually recommended, but many parents experience success with the simple message, “You may join us again when you’re ready.”
How do you encourage your child to manage his or her own behavior?
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.
For more great parenting ideas, consider reading Parenting with Love and Logic.
Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch.