Setting Boundaries: Being Fair With Rules And Rewards

Setting boundaries for your children is one of the best ways to raise well rounded children. Finding the invisible line in keeping your children happy and at the same time teaching them where the rules are can be very hard to find.  Yet, your success is likely to depend on just one thing: your ability to follow through. In many families, the problem lies in parents not following through with the rules, punishments or even rewards. Once this is put in place, though, significant changes are seen.

Lay Down The Rules

Setting boundaries for your child involves making a list of the rules of the home that everyone will follow.  This will include everything from the things they are responsible for to being respectful to each other.  Be specific when you work out the rules together, both parents working together to establish them.  Once you both have come to an agreement on what the rules are, or the boundaries are, then you can work on fine-tuning them so that they are actionable.

For example, if the children are unwilling to share their toys, determine what the rules are for that infringement.  In many cases, child behavior specialists believe that it is important to set boundaries that are able to be followed with punishments that fit the crime. Be fair with the rules.  Everyone should receive the same type of punishment, warning and reward for the activities on the rules.

Here are some tips to be successful in establishing the boundaries for within your home:

  • Determine what the rules are and write them down. Be sure that you sit down with your kids and allow them to express, consider, interest or ask questions about the rules. Once everyone knows what the rules are, then you can begin to enforce them.
  • The next step involves warnings. Giving one warning is an option for most parents, allowing their children to receive just one warning before inflicting punishment for the activity. Be sure that your child knows what the warning means.  You may decide to go with no warnings or even more warnings, as you deem necessary for your children.
  • When your child does not follow the rules, and has ignored any warnings you have given, the next step is to let your child know that they have broken the rules. Get down to eye level with the child, tell them what they have done wrong and send them to time out or the other type of punishment you have established.

Be Consistent and Follow Through

In order for the process to work well for any family, the process must be the same throughout.  For example, if you slack and give them more warnings then the system calls for, the result is that your children will continue to push the boundaries.  When they do, you will continue to be frustrated with them.

Following through is not only something you should do with your children when it comes to punishments. In fact, not following through with the requirements of rewards will also cause a problem within your family unit.  If you promise rewards of any type for good behavior, be sure to follow through.  Children learn from their parents before anyone else which means that if you do not follow through they will not do so either.

In addition to this, setting boundaries for yourself is just as important. Your children will see you bickering or breaking the home’s rules and will do the same thing themselves. After all, if mommy or daddy can do it, why can’t they do it?

The benefits of setting boundaries and following through with them will resonate throughout the entire life.  In most families, there is no reason for a parent that is a bully, but there is no doubt that your family also needs to follow fairly with the rules set forth.

For some children following any system is difficult.  There may be emotional or developmental issues holding your child back.  If you find that your child is continuing to pressure each other and setting boundaries is not helping, talk to your child’s doctor.  They can give you guidance on if there may be a medical condition that could be interfering with their ability.

See Also…

How to handle the tantrums without driving yourself crazy

How Can You Help Your Child Manage Anger?

Lying Children: How to Deal With Children Who Lie

How to Be a Good Parent by Being Cruel

10 Powerful Ways to Teach Good Behavior in Children