Parenting with Kindness

Your Positive Change Mentor
for Parents, Families and Youth Athletes

Positive Parenting FAQs

Q. How do I establish boundaries with my kids?

Posted on May 8, 2009 at 2:05 AM

A. I love the analogy that one of my mentors, Beth Sutton, has told me. Think of you and your family in a boat driving down a river. The river starts to rise and the water overflows the banks. Now your job is getting all the water back into the river. Uhg! Now think of the water rising again and instead of letting the water go over the banks, you build the riverbanks higher and higher, no water goes over the banks, and finally the river is no longer rising and returns to normal. Which way is easier?


Yes, building the riverbanks up and keeping the water from overflowing is easier. And so it is with kids. Kids push their boundaries like the river does.


As parents, when we try to reestablish the boundaries - put the overflowing water back in the river, we then are met with more resistance which is part of the individuating / pushing away of "wanting to get my own way" and all the whining, protesting and procrastination that goes with it, for days on end. This uphill battle is unsettling for all involved and takes up a lot of everyone's energy. The battles will stop only when the boundaries have been consistently held for days and maybe weeks. Sound familiar?


When you see the water beginning to rise, start building those banks up. Start with reminding them what the family rules are. Give them choices and be consistent with your follow-through.

All FAQs answers are copyrighted by Sharon O'Sullivan. Contact me for reprint rights.


Categories: Infants through Kindy-aged, Elementary and Tweens, Teenagers