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By Thea Theresa English

Tips on setting boundaries with your kids

When you set boundaries with your children, you show that you love them enough to protect them from harm and the effects of wrong behavior. Setting boundaries also helps them understand that in the world there are rules that are designed for their well-being. The first step is deciding on what the boundaries are in the home and what the consequences will be if the home rules are broken. The boundaries you set should also be consistently enforced so that the kids will not take advantage of your inconsistency.

Make sure the boundaries are reasonable

While the boundaries should include actions that you will never tolerate such as verbal or physical disrespect, you also do not want to set boundaries that appear unreasonable to the kids. If you have a rule where you will not give the kids additional money if they spend their allowance before you give out the next one, you can deviate from this rule if they need money for a school trip or an upcoming event with friends.

Be consistent with the consequences

If your kids go outside the boundaries you set, it is important that you give out consequences consistently. For example, if your son is not allowed to enter your room to use your computer when you are not home but he does it anyway, you might take away all privileges of him using your computer. As a result, he might have to use the computers at the library or at school.

Praise your child's good behavior

Positive reinforcement usually works in setting boundaries so when you see your child showing respect for the boundaries you set, tell him how proud you are of him and that you appreciate the respect he gives you. This motivates him to keep the good behavior up and it makes for a great parent-child relationship.

Discuss why the boundaries exist

Another thing you should do is discuss the reasons for the boundaries. If you have a rule of no screen time between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., tell them that you set this rule because you believe that kids should focus more on homework and time with family during after-school hours. Or if you set a boundary that does not allow your daughters to date until they are a certain age, you might tell them that you want to be sure that they have the maturity needed to get involved in a romantic relationship.

Offer alternatives

Sometimes the offer of alternatives help in setting boundaries. If you told your son that he will not receive a new laptop for his birthday due to financial difficulties, you can offer to upgrade his data plan on his cell phone so that he can browse the Internet without using excess data and causing high phone bill costs. Or if your daughter is not allowed to wear short dresses and skirts, she can wear stylish pants and jeans that are still modest in nature.

These suggestions are helpful in creating a safe environment and giving discipline to the kids.

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