Please see the article below from Mr. Fields, our wonderful counselor. I found so much of the information helpful and think you will, too.
May 31, 2017 by escounselors
Ramadan Kareem! As the year is slowly coming to a close, both Ms. Jen and myself have noted an uptick in conversations with parents about setting clear boundaries with their child. We thought some information on the nuances of this process might benefit all.
Kids are built to test limits, especially as they grow and mature. At the elementary age, children begin to quickly develop self-confidence as they more fluently perceive and interact with the world around them. They begin to read menus, road signs, papers on the fridge. They can do math and understand the natural processes of the world around them. And although this blooming confidence is something parents are right to encourage, it can cause problems when children begin to test where the line is between their responsibilities and privledges, and that of their caregivers.
When children start pushing back on the rules at home, remember that your most important job as a parent is to love your child, but also to keep yourself separate from them. This boundary-testing can make us as adults feel stressed, anxious, frustrated, sad, and sometimes even hopeless. Its easy to make the child’s behavior about you as a parent. However an important part in setting clear boundaries with children is reminding yourself that your child’s success and failures are a part of their development, and not a direct reflection on you.
When our children struggle its our natural inclination to jump in and solve that problem for them. We feel an inherent desire to remove the stress and anxiety children feel when faced with adversity. However, doing so blurs the line between you and your child. Adversity is large part of what turns children into resilient, independent, and fully-functioning adults. By not allowing your child the opportunity to try to solve their own problems (and occasionally fail), you are denying them a very important experience. Remember, the point is not to excuse yourself completely from your child’s life, but to guide and coach, rather than remove and rescue.
Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC, in her article “Parental Roles: How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Child,” explicitly outlines clues that you might be setting ambiguous boundaries with your child.
Doing for your child what he can (or should) do for himself.
Constantly asking questions; interrogating your child over everything.
Letting your child invade your boundaries as a couple—making your kids the center focus at all times.
Over-sharing with your child about your life; treating them like a friend rather than your child.
Giving up your parental authority and allowing your child to take control of the household.
Living through your child vicariously; feeling as if their achievements are yours, and their failures are yours as well.
Your child is upset, and you fall apart.
She also shares four solid tips on how to more clearly define the boundary between you and your child.
Define your boundaries: Explain for your child what the differences are in your relationship. Let them know what their role is and how it differs from your own.
Make your expectations known: Defining the role is helpful, but being specific about the lines you draw is important for children. Do not assume your child knows what they can and cannot do. Just like math, reading, or any academic subject, behavior is something that must be taught and retaught, before kids clearly understand what is expected of them.
Get your focus on yourself instead of your child: Although your child is your own, frequently remind yourself that they are a separate person, with the right to live their own lives, including experiencing uncomfortable and difficult feelings from time to time. Saving your child from tough experiences might feel like its helping them in the moment, but it can hurt them down the line. Taking inventory of your own reactions to your child’s successes and failures helps you to become more aware of when you may be blurring the parent/child boundary.
Let your child feel the impact of a crossed boundary: Set those limits with your child and then ensure you adhere to them. Nothing is a greater recipe for disaster than making promises to your child, be them positive or negative, and not following through on them. If they do not adhere to your expectations for their behavior, have pre-made, clearly defined consequences that are consistent, and routine. For instance, if your child often demands items at the store, sit your child down before you head out next time and make clear your expectations. You might say, “You may ask for an item in the store, but if I say ‘no’ that means no and you must accept that. If you ask a second time it will mean a 5 min timeout when we get home. If you ask a third time, we will leave the store right away and its a timeout and loss of a privilege later in the evening, etc.” Then make sure you actually do those things. Be preventative and consistent.
Parenting is difficult. Its easy to read these tips and think about how you might enact them, but in the moment, when emotions are running high, its difficult to stay the course. Be prepared to forgive yourself for missteps. But just like we teach the students here at school, recognize your mistakes and use them to grow. Stop yourself occasionally and ask yourself where you’re at in this process, and where you still need to go. Remember, your children are their own people, and should have the right to make mistakes themselves.
You can read more about this topic at Empoweringparents.com
What Do Feelings Look Like?
In KG1 and KG2 the last few weeks, Mr. Fields has been in classrooms teaching students about becoming Feelings Detectives. Feelings Detectives are people that can look for clues in faces and bodies that let them solve the case about how someone is feeling. Recognizing these clues in other people’s faces, and in their own, is the first step towards being able to better regulate mood and emotional responses.
I encourage you to challenge your child at random times to look for clues in people’s faces and bodies that help them recognize how they might be feeling. Ask them to look at the person’s eyes. “Where are they looking? Straight forward, or at the ground? What is their mouth doing? Is it smiling, frowning, or neither? What are their shoulders doing? Are they scrunched up, relaxed, or down low? What do those clues mean about how they feel?”
The materials for this lesson are a part of the Second Step Program, an evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum from Committee for Children, based out of Seattle, Washington. Mr. Fields and Ms. Jen are piloting this program in grades PreK-5 this year, and hope to include teachers in lesson instruction for 2017-2018. Feel free to contact Ms. Jen or Mr. Fields with any questions you may have about our use of the Second Step Program or any of our social-emotional learning (SEL) classroom lessons.