How To Set Boundaries With Children

Setting boundaries is no more than communicating what you expect from the other person. All people need boundaries in their life. Some boundaries are harder to set than others say like the Internet and Cell Phones for that raging hormone peer-pleasing teen.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

The difficulty with setting boundaries gets harder when your children are adults however if you’ve set clear boundaries growing up it isn’t a problem, maybe a conversation or to reclarify.

As a teen I was raised by my grandparents so I skipped a generation, meaning my parents were from deep poverty and the war generation. I went to live with them at 14 years old as a troubled teen. Boundaries were clearly needed.

Here are just a few

No phone calls after 9PM

In bed by 10PM

No leaving the house after 9PM

Curfew was midnight sharp!

Doors to the room were left open unless needed for privacy

Could only drive the car to take granny shopping, run family errands, to school and back, to basketball, special school dances, to write for school or local newspaper.

Once I started working I had to pay my gramps $8 a week for gas and the extra $50 a year it cost to add me to the insurance policy.

No sleepovers

Had to meet every date and friends

Today’s challenges

The biggest challenge faced by a pre-teen and teen is the Internet and Social media. Neither was around in my day. I didn’t buy my first computer until 1991.

If you start setting boundaries very early in life with will be much easier to set them with an emotional teen. One of the biggest challenges is peer pressure at this age and you will have to stand on what is appropriate for your specific child, are responsible enough, and is there a reason.

Now there are a few things to remember, I grew up in a strict environment and believe the boundaries and consequences are appropriate for a healthy relationship.

You have the opportunity to set boundaries are soon as your child is a toddler and the more boundaries as they get older. Be prepared for meltdowns, calling names, which is another boundary to set, and being mad at you.

If you want to try to be a friend to your child all their life you can stop reading here. I don’t buy into that style of parenting.

One of the first things that might come up is what language is appropriate to use in the house, for example calling names.

We’ll eat at dinner time and not in the bedroom. Even if your child is studying, they need a break from the books and this is your time to communicate with your child. How was their day?

A big bone of contention is the Internet and Cell phones. This is where you will get the most push because this is one huge peer pressure in your pre/teen’s life.

If your child is under 16 years old, but the computer is in an open but quiet part of the house to use. After they reach 16 or are very mature and responsible for their age you can move into their bedroom. The key here is, having a tracking device and blocking sites and apps they can use. Also, give them a limit to how long they have per day to use the computer. If the whole time is taken up for doing school work, too bad they have to wait until the next day.

The other teaching experience is learning responsibility and this can be done by boundaries. If you give your child an allowance, determine how much they should pay you for the computer and phone. Make them save for it. If they don’t save, it’s not that important or they are not responsible enough.

My granny knew how bad I wanted a camera, she said if I would save half she would pay for the other half. That was so appreciated because I didn’t expect it. Those lessons from my grandparents set me up for some great lessons in life. 

Like I said, I’m strict and believe that many problems today are created by the Internet and children’s exposure at too young of an age.

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Cell phones are another battle with children. There is so much peer pressure. You have to decide if the phone is needed, are they responsible enough to keep up with it or buy a new one themselves. Same if they lose it. If the child is working, I would have them pay a portion of the bill.

Make sure you buy the lowest Data plan, put a tracker on, and block sites. You are to have the code to the phone at all times and be free to read text. This is not only setting boundaries it’s teaching them responsibility.

A crucial part of setting boundaries is there will be times when they need to be broken, that’s life and you have to monitor the reasons. If there is a mass shooting, they can use all the data they have in one day! The key is communication and understanding why they ran out of data if it’s not apparent. It’s critical that you let your child know you are monitoring their computer and phone activity. If you sneak around you’ll have a hard time gaining their trust again. If they know up front, they have to make wise decisions or not be smart enough to try. It’s that simple. 

As your children move out and learn to spread their wings, you’ll have to set new boundaries. But that’s for another post.



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