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Want To Set Effective Boundaries? Focus On ‘Connect And Redirect’!

Team StoryWeavers|January 27, 2021|

Set effective boundaries

It is common knowledge that children need to be taught about limits and boundaries, which in turn need to be set by their parents. But, most parents are not sure about how to do the same,  especially in a way that is effective and supports positive parent-child relationships

In this article, we will talk about ‘connect and redirect’ strategy to set boundaries for children effectively. This strategy can also be used for disciplining children as the purpose of discipline is to teach. 

What is ‘Connect And Redirect’? 

A paper, Relationships matter: How clinicians can support positive parenting in the early years, published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health, lists a powerful method to set boundaries for children. Though this method is primarily used for disciplining them, it can also be used to set effective limits. 

Step 1: Connect

Connection helps parents and children to be more receptive towards each other. Building a connection also helps them let go of unhelpful assumptions and misinterpretations of behaviour. This step requires parents to understand how they are responding to their child’s behaviour. Parents need to explore what they are saying to their children and the way it is being said. They are expected to follow practices that make the child feel more comfortable such as getting down to the child’s level and not towering over them and adding a gentle touch-and-nod when appropriate. When parents acknowledge their child’s emotions, even when they are discouraging the behaviour, it validates the child’s feelings and makes them feel heard. Parents can paraphrase what the child is saying or simply repeat it to validate the child’s emotions. 

It creates a platform where both parents and children are ready to listen and look for solutions. 

Step 2: Redirect

Before redirecting a child, both parent and child must be emotionally ready to listen to each other. This is achieved by following Step 1, which is building and maintaining a connection. 

Here is how you can set boundaries for children by using redirect strategy: 

  • Reduce Words: You need not lecture the child. 
  • Embrace Emotions: Acknowledge the child’s feelings even when you disagree with their actions. Validate the feelings by rephrasing or repeating what the child is saying. 
  • Describe: Describe what you want the child to do in fewer words. 
  • Involve the Child: Ask the child what he/she thinks, or give limited choices and ask them to choose between two equally desirable options.
  • Get the child to say ‘yes’ by rephrasing the newly set boundary or limit with conditions. 

Simply put, you need to acknowledge the child’s emotions, describe what you want them to do, and then get them to say yes. This is how you can use the ‘Connect and redirect’ strategy to set effective boundaries and limits for children. You may initially find it difficult to implement this. However, you need to stay consistent and soon you will master the skill of setting effective boundaries for your children. 

What methods do you use to set boundaries for children? Do you find them effective? Are you excited to try it out? Let us know in the comments below or drop a mail at [email protected] 

For more information, please refer to Siegel DJ, Payne Bryson T. No Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2014.

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About the Author


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Mekhala Joshi

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She’s the only ‘Mekhala’ she knows, and she takes a bit of pride in that. She is a quintessential introvert. Mekhala loves tea but cannot make a good cup of tea and often ends up having coffee. She claims that she takes all adjectives as complements unless specified otherwise. Mekhala is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grade 2 & 3, as a part of Teach For India Fellowship. And has worked as an independent consultant for a couple of years.

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