Children and Kids articles catalog


Boundaries- Why Are They Needed? - by Derek Randel & Gail Randel M.D.

Imagine a child who lacks ownership of his own life, has no self-control, and lacks respect for others. If these were the qualities of your son, how would you feel for his future wives?

Yes, wives is plural, this is one major reason we need to set boundaries for our children ? their future. One study showed that children born recently on average will have more spouses than kids. Here are a few examples of children who lack boundaries:

1. Little Johnny walks right into his parent?s bedroom whenever he wants. It does not matter if the door was open or closed.

2. Twelve year-old Steve changes the channel on the television whenever he wants. It does not matter if anyone was watching a show or not.

3. Susie blames others for her mistakes. It always seems to be her teacher?s fault, brother?s fault, or a friend?s fault when something does not go right.

4. Marie is uncomfortable with how her boyfriend treats her and pressures her for sex. She keeps dating him because she questions who else would want to date her.

Without boundaries children will have problems in relationships, school, and life. Many times addictive behavior can be traced to lack of boundaries. Her are a few results that can occur:

1. Children can have controlling behavior

2. Children can be motivated by guilt or anger.

3. Without firm boundaries children are more likely to follow their peer group. For example, making unwise choices on sex, drinking, or driving.

4. Children don?t own their own behavior or consequences, which can lead to a life of turmoil.

5. Children may allow others to think for them.

6. They may allow someone else to define what his or her abilities will be. This denies their maximum potential.

7. When someone has weak boundaries they pick up other?s feelings.

8. Weak boundaries may make it hard to tell where we end and another person begins.

What is a parent to do? Many times we hinder the child from developing boundaries. Here are a few suggestions to help you set boundaries:

1. Recognize and respect the child?s boundaries. For example, knock on their closed bedroom door instead of just walking in.

2. Set our own boundaries and have consequences for crossing them.

3. Avoid controlling the child.

4. Give two choices; this helps our children learn decision-making skills.

5. Realize we must teach our children boundaries; they are not born with them.

6. When you recognize that boundaries need to be set. Do it clearly, do it without anger, and use as few words as possible.

7. We need to say what hurts us and what feels good.

8. It may be difficult to set a boundary. You may feel afraid, ashamed, or nervous, that?s okay, do it anyways.

Another way to work with boundaries and children is to model these for our children.

1. Recognize your physical boundaries.

2. You have the right to request proper treatment, for example, poorly prepared meals in a restaurant should be sent back, ask others to smoke away from your space, and ask that loud music be turned down.

3. Share your opinions with your children. Allow your children their opinions. Opinions are not right or wrong. This will help them think for themselves.

4. Teach them how you decide on the choices you make.

5. Lets own what we do and what we don?t do. Take responsibility for when things go wrong.

6. Accept your thoughts, it is who you are.

7. Discover what your limits are, emotional and physical.

Setting boundaries is all about taking care of ourselves. This is the first guideline we teach in our workshops. Other benefits include:

1. We will learn to value, trust, and listen to ourselves.

2. Boundaries are also the key to having a loving relationship.

3. Boundaries will help us with our personal growth.

4. We will learn to listen to ourselves (trusting our intuition). We also will learn to respect and care for others and ourselves.

5. Boundaries will aid us in the workplace.

Boundaries are all about freedom and recognizing when these freedoms have been crossed. Boundaries give us a framework in which to negotiate life events. Recognizing and acting when our boundaries have been crossed will protect our freedom. Boundaries lead to winning relationships for both parties. By building foundations based on mutual trust, love, and respect we can expect our children to grow up more tolerant and with a mature character. Simply put, boundaries simplify life.

Derek and Gail Randel have customized programs for corporations, schools, and parent groups for putting the fun back into parenting so you can enjoy your children. They can be reached at Parent Smart from the Heart 1-866-89-SMART, or

We also have a free monthly newsletter for parents.

Behavior Problems: Helping The Whole Family - By J. Bailey Molineux

I`m about to give away a trade secret about my professional work. It may mean that some parents who might have consulted with me about problems with their children won`t now do so. But it could also mean that those parents who do come to me will have a better chance of helping their children.

My secret? I assume the problems are with the parents, especially in their marriage or post-divorce relationship, and not with the child. A child`s psychological problems are in most cases a reflection of the parents` problems.

I was director of a family counseling agency in Helena for about three and one half years. We counseled parents who were having discipline problems with their children. About half of the families we saw were divorced, never married or stepfamilies. In the intact families, most parents displayed chronic, unresolved marital problems that were reflected in the child`s acting out behavior.

I remember one case of a chronically strained marriage in which the parents could not even agree on a bedtime for the child. One said 8 P.M., while the other insisted on 9 P.M., and I could not get them to compromise on an 8:30 bedtime. If they couldn`t agree on rules and consequences for the child, couldn`t present a united front, there was no way that discipline would be effective with their child.

But there`s something deeper going on when a child`s behavior problems are a reflection of the parents` problems, something I suspect is unconscious to the child. The mental health of the parents, and the state of their relationship, whether married or divorced, sets the tone for how the family functions. These factors provide emotional security for the children. If Mom and Dad are unhappy or fighting too much, their children will worry about them.

That worry will then translate into misbehavior. Kids can`t talk about their emotions the way adults can, so they act them out in misbehavior. And the behavior usually sends this message: "Help! My parents are hurting."

Children will also draw attention to themselves by misbehaving to stop their parents` fighting. Again I don`t believe kids do this consciously, but it is as if they say to their parents, "Quit fighting and pay attention to me."

Drs. Robert Hemfelt and Paul Warren express my treatment philosophy very nicely in their book, Kids Who Carry Our Pain, which I would like to paraphrase. Parents` priorities when they bring their children for counseling are:

Fix the kid who has a problem.

Well, OK, if you want to tinker around with our relationship a little, we suppose it won`t hurt. Might do some good.

Fix us? We don`t need fixing. It`s the kid.

And absolutely without exception, according to Hemfelt and Warren, the reverse is the correct order of priorities:

Parents, heal yourselves.

Work on your relationship with each other.

Now help your children resolve their own problems without pressure from above.

There are exceptions, of course. Some children are hyperactive for biological reasons or difficult to raise because of inborn temperament. Others have been abused or traumatized outside the family.

But for most of us, our children serve as a barometer of how we`re doing. If they`re acting out, they`re asking for help for themselves and for us. If we pay attention to that message and do something about it, they could be doing us a favor by pushing us towards greater mental health.

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