A failure to set boundaries during childhood may ruin your kid's future character.
Today's culture of parents are so concerned with being their children's friends that they have forgotten the importance of their role as an authority figure within their family. Failure to set appropriate boundaries is detrimental to your child. Parents subsequently fail to set appropriate boundaries for their children, partly because they're also too tired or worn out to fight over putting the toys away, or what food their kid will eat for dinner. But a little bit of extra effort now will save you a lot of fighting with your child in the long run.
Children need boundaries to teach them parameters for appropriate and acceptable behavior. Setting boundaries serves four functions:
1. Teach your children good habits.
It may seem trivial, but making your child eat everything on their plate, go to bed at a decent hour, and clean up after themselves teaches your child good habits. Making your child eat all their food teaches them not to be wasteful and ensures they get proper nutrition during their most important years developmentally. While it may seem like a constant battle with them at first, eventually they will give up the fight and know what the deal is. As they grow and develop from children to adolescents and then teens, these boundaries will become habits. As they become adults they will retain most of these habits. Your child will learn to self-regulate when they need to go to sleep, appreciate a decent meal, and treat their property with cleanliness and respect.
2. Help your child(ren) become responsible, productive citizens.
While appropriate boundaries become good habits, good habits reap good character. Children learn how to self-regulate and keep themselves in check. It will also teach children how to set their own boundaries for themselves as they become adults, which will help them achieve success. Children without appropriate boundaries have a lack of self-control. They will also depend on others to get tasks accomplished. Without being motivated by boundaries to get things done for themselves, and exhibiting self-control to delay gratification, children as adults will become lazy and unmotivated. They are more likely to abuse substances and earn a lower income. Your child's future success depends on your boundary setting in their early years.
3. Help your child learn trust and respect.
Teaching your child to address people as Mr. and Mrs. or Sir, not to touch things that don't belong to them, and to check in when they're going to be late will ensure they learn about respect. Respecting others as people, and respecting the property of others. As they become adults, as others see them respect property, they are more likely to be trusted with other's important property. They are also more likely to treat their own property with care and respect. Also, teaching your child to be on time and the importance of checking in when they will be late teaches responsibility and trust. It helps parents trust their children when they're out, and will translate to trustworthy behavior as adults.
4. Teach children about appropriate and acceptable behavior; and to recognize when they're being abused or mistreated.
Setting boundaries in this area may look like teaching children how to behave appropriately in public, around other people, and what is/is not an acceptable way to display behavior. This will help children learn manners and how to behave in public. Another example of boundary setting is teaching your child that hitting is not acceptable when angry. This teaches children how to treat others, how to treat you, and what is/is not tolerable behavior. But you must also practice what you preach. You cannot teach a child that it is not okay to hit if the children observe you slapping your spouse during marital conflict. Also make sure your "no" means "no." Don't allow children to argue their way into changing your mind. They will also be likely to stick to their guns as adults when they say "no."
The best way to teach boundaries is by also respecting your own boundaries. Not allowing your children or even other adults to disrespect you teaches children that you have boundaries that are not to be crossed. Likewise, as adults they will also stick to their boundaries. If you set boundaries but allow the children or maybe even your spouse or others cross those boundaries, children learn that you don't really mean what you say. When children interact with others, they may be likely to believe that others also do not mean what they say, especially when they say "no."
Set boundaries and honor them yourself. Your child's future success, happiness, and possibly even safety depends on it!