Consistency in Boundaries

Evolution in boundaries means an evolution in the questions adults encourage kids to ask.

Consistency is important because it means predictability; everyone knows the rules and everyone knows the consequences—good and bad.  “I do this and I’ll get that.”   It’s a simple arrangement.

Simple Becomes Complicated

Limits and boundaries for younger kids are black and white; rules with yes/no answers about TV, candy, and such. It’s all very predictable and comfortable, until the child starts to grow-up and asks, “Why can’t I watch TV?”

Because I Said So (BISS)

In the beginning, your effort to explain won’t satisfy her young mind because she’s only experienced enough to understand the power of her question—not necessarily the answer.   After you’ve explained a bit, BISS gets everyone moving again because the child accepts that you’re the expert and that you know best.

Change sneaks up on you

The problem isn’t using BISS; it’s continuing to use it.   At some point, this girl will be old enough to understand the rule and can connect her actions before dinner and homework to her appetite and concentration.   Yeah!  Unfortunately, most adults aren’t looking for signs of this kind of readiness and get comfortable with BISS.   It’s easy and quickly cuts-off arguments because it’s not based on reasonableness, it’s based on authority.

“May I have candy, please?”

Evolution in boundaries means an evolution in the questions adults encourage kids to ask.   A question with a quick yes/no answer relieves everyone from considering the reasonableness of the request and the consequences of actions.   Questions like this lack empowerment and responsibility but come loaded with potential blame, victimization, and resentment should candy or TV not be a good idea right now.

The Evolution of Consistency

Boundaries evolve into a system for evaluating reasonableness, appropriateness, and consequences.   Consistency is in the thinking process required by everyone to assess the reasonableness of actions.   Asking your child to first evaluate her requests  empowers her.  Unlike the boundaries needed for young children, now, with reasonableness as the boundary, your child begins to practice real-life decision-making.

You’ll need to teach her how to think this way and what defines reasonable.  Start with the easy little things, like candy or TV, and start as early as you possibly can.  The more practice she has with the little things now the easier it will be for you later as you influence her determination of reasonableness when she starts to date and drive.   YIKES!

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Author: Lorraine Esposito

Lorraine Esposito Lorraine@Peacemaker-Coach.com 914-410-7502 Lorraine Esposito is a certified professional life coach, mentor coach, owner of The Center for Coaching Mastery at Westchester Community College in New York, and nationally recognized author of The Peacemaker Parent, Solving Problems for Today, Teaching Independence for a Lifetime, Lorraine is the featured life coach for a popular New York radio station, WFAS 103.9 FM and is in collaboration with and featured blogger for the National Football League and USA Football adding a ‘coach approach’ to coaching youth sports. Lorraine’s client base includes CEO’s in the entertainment industry, White House and Capitol Hill public affairs staff, entrepreneurs, global TED speakers, award winning writers, new coaches just starting out, successful business women between 40 and 55 looking for more out of life, and parents needing a little help making good on their parenting promises. Lorraine’s career matches the diversity in her coaching practices. Starting out in the rural mid-west, Lorraine has owned four small businesses; the first, an automobile repair center, started at age 16. Her corporate experience is mainly in negotiating multimillion dollar contracts as the buyer of domestic in-flight food and beverages for Trans World Airlines and then as a procurement manager for the New York City Transit Authority. Lorraine’s strength has always been creatively finding solutions to even the most complicated goal. In addition, Lorraine’s 30 years as a professional fitness coach continues to add depth to all her endeavors. She has been featured in various print, broadcast, and on-line media and is a public speaker regarding personal leadership to community and school-based audiences. Lorraine lives in New York with her husband and two teenage sons.

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