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.
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.
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.
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:
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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