5 Ways to Reinforce Healthy Boundaries with Your Child

A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.

-Henry Cloud-

There are 10 tools parents can use that will minimize the risk of their child being sexually abused. One of those tools is setting healthy boundaries for them.

Outlining clear boundaries for your child, including rules, bedtimes, screen time limits, daily routines, etc., allows a child to know what is expected of them. They are then able to predict what will happen in their everyday life, reducing anxiety and allowing them to thrive. Healthy boundaries help protect them and keep them safe. They also allow you to create and continue open communication with your child.

Below is a list of five ways to reinforce the healthy boundaries you’ve set and encourage open communication, whatever the age of your child.

1. Start a routine.

If you don’t already have a daily routine, consider creating one for your family. Consistency in waking up, going to bed, and meal times allows you to have set times where you will interact with your child. If you are running from place to place, a routine can create order in the chaos.

 2. Set expectations.

With a routine you need to set expectations. What is expected of your child and when? A child can’t respect boundaries if they don’t know them.

 3. Have dinner together.

When asked the number one practice that would prevent a child from being sexually abused in childhood, the noted psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk said simply, “Family dinners.” Turn off the TV, put the electronics away, and be together. The conversation and listening that will then occur, according to van der Kolk, will create a trusting bond between parent and child.

 4. Give them responsibility.

Allow your child to be in charge of something. As long as it’s age-appropriate they will benefit from it. If they know what they are responsible for and when they will feel a sense of both accomplishment and control in what they do.

 5. Keep consequences consistent.

Responsibility and consequences go hand in hand. If your child falls short of their (reasonable and age-appropriate) responsibilities, then there should be a consequence every time. The consequence, like the responsibility, should be reasonable and age-appropriate.

No two children are the same, so keep that in mind as you create the boundaries for your child. They are not a one-size-fits-all situation. You know your child better than anyone and can set appropriate boundaries for him or her as an individual. With the security of healthy boundaries, you’ll be creating an open dialogue with your child, allowing them to thrive within healthy parameters, and minimizing the risk of them being sexually abused.