In our house, fall equals football. For years, we have supported our son through the ups and downs of seasonal play. But here’s the thing about football—and many other worthwhile pursuits. It doesn’t just happen in the fall. For those dedicated to outstanding seasonal play, the work happens every day of the year.
The day after the final playoff game, dedicated players are in the gym, putting in the work, lifting the weights, and training for next year. They understand that to be great, they must stay within the bounds set for successful athletes.
The same principle applies to raising successful children. If we want to raise successful, well-adjusted adults who are ready to tackle the game of life, it begins with setting boundaries with children. These boundaries encompass everything from curfews and bedtimes to behaviors with friends and technology. In today’s world, the discussion about boundaries on smartphone use is particularly relevant—an issue Troomi Wireless makes easier.
Why boundaries are good for kids
Some may ask, what is the importance of boundaries for kids? Shouldn’t our children have freedom to explore and make their own rules? Perhaps in some situations, that would be the appropriate response. But often, boundaries are good for kids.
In many respects, we, as parents, should consider ourselves coaches of our Team Family. We are older, more mature, and more experienced. While we love our kids and want to help them be happy, we must set boundaries for our children to help them reach their full potential.
Here are a few reasons why boundaries are good for kids.
Boundaries help our kids feel safe.
In football, rules, both on and off the field, protect players from injury. In the real world, boundaries help our kids feel safe in an uncertain, sometimes dangerous, world. If our children know where the limits are, they can navigate within those limits without fear.
Take, for example, rules about where and when our kids can interact with friends. If they know certain locations and times are off-limits—say, no hanging out at friends’ homes without an adult present—the questions and uncertainty disappear. They know the expectations and can act accordingly.
Boundaries give a sense of order.
Kids need routines. Those routines establish boundaries for certain behaviors and expectations, bringing order into an otherwise chaotic world. Especially in situations like we have all faced over the last year and a half with the chaos of a global pandemic, the order of boundaries helps kids make sense of the world.
Boundaries prepare kids for the real world.
Any adult will tell you that boundaries are part of life. If we don’t set boundaries for our kids and hold them to those boundaries, our kids won’t be prepared to function in the real world. Everything from expectations in the workplace—like appropriate internet use or an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay—to laws of the land—for everything from speed limits to murder—all function effectively because boundaries are in place.
Without boundaries, societies would falter. So why not help our kids understand this important truth from a young age. Rather than being a punishment, boundaries actually promote functionality and success.
What Does God Say About Boundaries?
Regardless of your faith tradition, it’s likely that God has established boundaries for acceptable behavior. Most Christians, for example, believe in the boundaries recognized in the Ten Commandments, a set of moral absolutes established to protect individuals and societies.
Sadly, societies tend to only accept four of the Ten Commandments as appropriate boundaries for civilizations. These include rules about murder, stealing, lying, and honoring parents. However, people bend other boundaries set by God on a regular basis, forfeiting the benefits of such boundaries for individuals and groups.
If you want to reap the benefits of healthy boundaries with your children, consider how God sets boundaries with His children. Use the Ten Commandments as a guide when setting boundaries with children.
What Are Examples of Healthy Boundaries?
You might ask, what are good boundaries for kids? Or what should I consider when setting good boundaries? Just like we can look to God for examples of good boundaries, we can also look to other trusted sources to find examples of good boundaries and how to set them.
Parenting.com lists the following tips when determining what are examples of good boundaries. When establishing rules, they suggest:
· Don’t be too strict. “Keep your child’s age and abilities in mind when making rules, and when possible, give an explanation for your reasons.”
· Don’t be too easy. “Impose reasonable limits on your child’s behavior.” Don’t frame rules in the form of a question. Rather, give your kids clear statements of boundaries that you expect them to follow.
· Be consistent. “…Mixed messages will only encourage more testing of limits to find out where the boundaries really lie.” With fewer rules, you can be consistent in enforcing them. You can also be more flexible since there aren’t as many rules to remember and enforce.
· Be expansive. Expanding boundaries is different than being inconsistent. As your child grows, matures, and earns more trust, be willing to expand the reach of the boundaries. This may be done on a trial basis to test results. For example, as your child gets older, they may merit a later curfew. However, if a later curfew results in lower grades or other shirked responsibilities, the curfew may need to be moved back up.
· Give your child a voice. While you’re still the coach with the final say, your child’s input will give them ownership of the boundaries. This ownership might encourage them to observe the boundaries more willingly and accept the consequences of a broken boundary more readily. In fact, plan some group activities for setting boundaries like a family council or planning session where everyone participates in the process. Kids may not get to set the boundaries in this setting, but at least they will understand the reasons for them.
Here are some behaviors and activities that merit boundaries for kids.
For younger kids:
· Screen time
· Interactions with others
· Behavior in public places
· Smartphone and other tech use (one reason Troomi Wireless is a good idea)
· Curfews, both on school nights and weekends
· Drug and alcohol use
· Sexual intimacy
Worth the Effort
There’s no question that being the coach of Team Family takes effort. But it’s worth it. Football wouldn’t be nearly as fun or entertaining to us each fall if those players didn’t stay within the boundaries—both on and off the field—established to help them succeed. And our families will reap the rewards of successful, resilient kids tomorrow if we set—and stick to—a comprehensive set of boundaries for successful living today.