Palm Crest Elementary

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Counseling Update February 23, 2017




                This topic has so many layers and nuances that I am going to skip any fancy introduction and just jump right into the topic of control and boundaries.  Let’s face it, kids push the boundaries every day, all the time.  They test us and see how far they can go; it’s in their nature and part of growing up—remember, we did the same thing to our parents—payback.  Remember, it is our job as the adult to stay calm, loving, and firm.  Stay in the role of parent and don’t lose sight of the fact that you are not your child’s friend, that is, not yet; wait until they are adults then maybe that can happen.

                So, how do you know if your child is pushing the boundaries?  It should be obvious; but, just in case you are unclear here are some hints:


  •       Your child walks into your room without knocking on the closed door and doesn’t respect your privacy.
  •       Your child interrupts your conversation with another adult without saying “excuse me” or waiting politely.
  •       Your child tells you what to do and then throws tantrums if you don’t comply.

Still unsure when boundaries are being crossed; then, check your emotional meter.  Do you feel uncomfortable, angry, tense, embarrassed, resentful, diminished, or put upon when you are having an encounter with your child? Are you feeling anxious about your child’s behavior; therefore, over compensating for them?  How do you know if you are over compensating?  It is when you do too much for them—that is defined as doing things that they can and should do for themselves.   If any of this sounds familiar, then boundaries are being crossed. Setting boundaries is not easy; it needs to be a deliberate and a well-thought out effort.


Here are four suggested tips that can be implemented when setting boundaries:

  1.      Define your boundaries.  Know what you value, think and where you stand.  Then, communicate it clearly to your child.  Do your best to do what you say.  Children are guided by watching what you do, which often makes more of an impression than what you say.
  2.      Make your expectations known. Think about what you can and can’t live with; thinking through what matters most to you.  Then, communicate it clearly to your child. 
  3.      Get your focus on yourself instead of your child.When your child is acting poorly and not listening to you, think about how you can clearly communicate what you expect—and hold your child accountable when he/she doesn’t listen.
  4.      Let your child feel the impact of a crossed boundary.Help your children experience the impact/consequences of crossing boundaries so that it becomes part of their reality. In doing this, your child will know that you respect yourself and mean what you say.

Final word: When you know where you stand, you’ll know what you will and won’t put up with from your child. Define your boundaries and try to stick to your principles rather than reacting to your moment-to-moment emotions. If you let your thoughts and principles drive you, you won’t be so apt to let your emotions determine your parenting—and both you and your child will be happier for it.


Linda H. Matchie,

Comprehensive Counselor