Born to Push: Children and Boundaries

A common experience for many parents is a full scale rebellion just about the time their beautiful baby turns two years old, often referred to as “the terrible two’s”. For most parents this is time where they are first confronted with tantrums and meltdowns from their child at the mere mention of the word “no”.

A child does not come with a manual or set of directions from the factory. This can leave parents feeling ill prepared for the many surprises they will face as their child develops both physically and cognitively. Parenting classes, parent coaching, and family therapy with a licensed therapist are fantastic tools to be taken advantage of. However, not all parents are ready to take part in parenting classes or family therapy. For those parents, I have mapped out some key concepts to keep in mind as you child pushes and pushes in search of boundaries.

  • Remember it is normal for children and teenagers to search for the physical and emotional boundaries around them.
  • Provide your child with firm, yet flexible boundaries around demands, expectations and requests. For example, if a child demands a treat and tantrums when told “no”, they are merely trying to see if they can push past the boundary and make mom or dad give them the treat anyway. It can be excruciating to see your little one, red in the face with tears streaming down their cheeks and all you have to do is give them the treat and it will all be over. Unfortunately, by giving into tantrums you are doing your beloved child a major disservice. The child needs you to remain firm and loving as they learn where the social and emotional boundaries are around them.
  • Know when to be flexible. Pay attention to your child’s needs religiously. Simply writing off all displays of discontent as tantrums will create a cold and overly rigid environment that can create many other issues for you child down the line.
  • If you are having trouble holding firm yet flexible boundaries with your child, you may consider finding some help from a Marriage and Family Therapist or other clinician to help you along. Letting your boundaries be too diffuse or too rigid will yield undesired results and almost guarantee more trouble for you and your child later, especially during the teen years.

For those of you who have read the above information and realize that you are dealing with an adolescent or young adult that is having trouble with boundaries, family rules, and trouble at school, there is hope. Getting involved in counseling with a trained and licensed therapist may be all you need to turn your relationship with you teenager around. The goal of teen therapy or family therapy is to help the individual or the family function better. Providing parents with the skills needed to raise a child or teen and providing teens and young adults with skills, is one of the most important parts of therapy. You don’t have to remain in a “stuck” and “overwhelmed” place. Reach out today to a trained therapist for parent coaching and regain control of our child and your lives.