Help, my child doesn't accept boundaries!

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Help, my child doesn't accept boundaries!

Sure, it may get on your last nerve sometimes, but children testing their limits is part of normal development. But what happens if your child doesn't accept any boundaries (anymore)? In this case, you should intervene. Below you can find out what causes repeated boundary violations by children and how you can actively counteract them.

Setting boundaries: Why it's so important in parenting

Hardly any child likes to have boundaries set. Nevertheless, it is important that you as a parent insist on certain rules. This is not about arbitrarily restricting your child's freedom, but about protecting them from danger and offering them guidance. After all, a child still lacks the life experience to make sensible decisions on their own in certain areas.

In terms of social interaction, it is also important that a child is given boundaries and adheres to them. This is the only way they can learn how a community works. Everyone has needs that must not be violated. Internalizing this fact at an early age is beneficial for later social skills, as a current study proves

Child does not accept boundaries: Introducing and explaining boundaries

Does your child not accept boundaries? This could be because they can't understand their meaning. The willingness to abide by rules that you don't understand is self-explanatorily low. You would certainly be no different. So the question is: Why is the respective boundary so important to you as a parent? Can you justify it in a comprehensible way?

It makes sense to critically question some boundaries. Sometimes we simply adopt Beliefs from your own childhood that are no longer up to date. Simply wanting to enforce something "on principle" because others do it this way or because your own parents did it this way is not helpful for you or your child.

But how do you introduce meaningful boundaries? The following 3 basic tips can help you with this:

  1. Less is more: Don't impose various prohibitions "on principle", but weigh up what is really necessary. Enforce the important boundaries with conviction and communicate them with clear, child-friendly words.
  2. Avoid Adultismbut explain the boundaries to your child at eye level. Instead of: "Because I said so ...". It would be better to say: "I don't want you to go to the cutlery drawer because there are sharp knives in there that you could cut yourself with."
  3. 3. be a role model: show your child that you also stick to boundaries and rules. Does your child ask you to knock before you enter their room? Then stick to it.
Child knows no boundaries

Consistency in the implementation of rules

The reason why a child does not accept boundaries may be due to a lack of consistency in the implementation of rules. This is in no way meant as an accusation. It is all too human that you may have given in once when your child has a tantrum. However, if this happens regularly, at some point your child will no longer take your boundaries seriously.

Therefore, if a boundary is important to you, then enforce it consistently. This also applies if your child throws a tantrum as a result. It is more effective to accompany the anger as often as necessary until your child has accepted the respective limit. Yes, it is exhausting. Giving in would certainly be the easier option in the short term. In the long term, however, you would achieve the opposite.

Child does not accept boundaries: the role of the learning coach in child education

School is an area of life where children often test their limits. At worst, learning or doing homework can degenerate into an energy-sapping power struggle between parent and child. In such a muddled situation, it is difficult to remain constructive. In many cases, neutral, professional support is beneficial.

An Learning Coach can motivate your child to recognize their own strengths and use them productively (again). It's not about teaching your child learning material, but about teaching them individually suitable learning techniques that they can use independently. With the first successes at school, the fun of learning usually returns quickly.

Child does not accept boundaries: communication and understanding

As already mentioned, targeted communication is essential if your child does not accept boundaries. This includes not only formulating your rules clearly and unambiguously, but also showing understanding for your child's concerns: "I can understand that you don't like this rule, but it's important because ..."

Depending on age and topic, you can talk together about why and whether the respective boundary is important. Listen to what your child has to say and why they sometimes find it difficult to keep to this boundary. Perhaps a compromise is possible that everyone involved can agree to. In this way, you are showing your child how to deal with differences of opinion in an appreciative and constructive way.

Child does not accept boundaries: Rewards and consequences

Your child doesn't accept boundaries and you're toying with the idea of using rewards? We would advise against this - at least when it comes to material rewards or even gifts of money. A child should not be rewarded lavishly for things that are taken for granted (e.g. taking their dirty shoes off at the front door).

A thank you and appreciative praise from you, on the other hand, is perfectly appropriate: "I think it's great that you remembered to take off your dirty shoes." This encourages your child to stick to the rules. Consequences are just as important when boundaries have been crossed: "I've asked you several times to take your shoes off. Now you can't go outside today."

Announce the consequences in advance. Your child should know exactly what will happen if they do not accept the limit. It is important that the consequence is immediate and relates as specifically as possible to the rule violation. This is the best way for your child to link behavior and consequence.

Child does not accept boundaries: individual needs and boundaries

Your child doesn't accept boundaries, even though there have never been any problems with a sibling? Parents of several children know: Every child is individual. The way boundaries are set depends not only on age, but also on the mentality and maturity of the child in question.

You know your child best of all. That's why you shouldn't let yourself be guided too much by general ideas, but set individual boundaries for your child. Does your child not accept boundaries and is still very immature for their age? Then it needs more guidance than a child who already shows a great sense of responsibility.

Child does not accept boundaries: self-care for parents

Your child doesn't accept boundaries and you feel exhausted? That's completely understandable. So that you can devote all your energy to your child again, your own self-care must not be neglected. Admittedly, this is sometimes not so easy to implement in everyday parenting. This is especially true if you are a single parent.

Nevertheless, you should try to consciously allow yourself breaks in your everyday life. This will help you stay calm when there are disputes about family rules and boundaries. If your child is still small, it is advisable to use nap time for a little self-care: Instead of doing the housework, you could take a bath, read a book or watch a series.

If your child is older - or doesn't take a reliable nap - it may be possible for grandparents or good friends to take over childcare for a few hours so that you can get some peace and quiet.

Showing the child boundaries

Child does not accept boundaries: joint activities and positive reinforcement

If your child does not accept boundaries, everyday life is often characterized by stress and arguments. However, the latter costs energy, which you need to communicate and enforce rules.

So make sure you still spend quality time together with your child. This way you can both relax. The tension is taken out of everyday family life. What you want to do together is of course up to you: How about a visit to the zoo or the swimming pool?

Conclusion: Boundaries as part of the normal learning and development process

Boundaries are part of life. This is an essential part of the learning and development process for children. However, children like to test their limits, especially at school, which can manifest itself in the form of refusal to learn, for example. To help your child rediscover their natural joy of learning, we would like to offer you our free e-book "The 10 best tips for fun and success in learning" recommend

In our free e-book, we have summarized ten tried-and-tested tips for you and your child. You'll learn how to empathize with your child when they are frustrated with learning and how to teach them rules and boundaries in a child-friendly way.


The 10 best tips for 
Fun and success in learning

In our free e-book you get 10 tried and tested tipsthat will help you to support your child in learning in the best possible way.
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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