Setting Boundaries ~ Creating Resilient Kids

While waiting for my sandwich at a restaurant I watched the 20-year old behind the counter. Not once did he make eye contact. He was completely lost in a simple human-to-human contact situation. Looking around I saw tables filled with teens and twenty-somethings staring at their phones – the restaurant was eerily quiet for the number of people present.

Getting Together yet ignoring each other
Getting Together yet ignoring each other

We are living with a disconnected generation of easily offended, short-attention-span youngsters who think the world owes them a living, who believe someone else is responsible for their pain and joy, and who can’t negotiate personal relationships that aren’t online.

There’s a lot of handwringing and online chat about the troubled youngsters making headlines. Parents who take a hands-on approach early in their children’s lives are more successful at intervening before their child goes off the rails.

We can teach our kids respect. We can give them boundaries so they don’t wander too far into trouble. These boundaries need to be gently and firmly administered with love from the time the child is a toddler.

We can teach our kids respect. We can give them boundaries

I was married to a policeman for many years. His motto was, “If you don’t get enough time-outs as a child, you get them as a grownup.”  And he was right. (The current group of Hollywood child-star-trainwrecks come to mind!)

We need to be intentional in our childrearing, and we need to know which battles are important. We need to help our kids operate in a world where humans interact with each other without machines. Parents often don’t take the long view in childrearing — “How will this impact my kids down the road? What’s important for the long haul?”

Children crave boundaries. They are, after all, just puppies. A child of 10 has only been on the planet for 3,650 days. We can’t expect them to know everything. Setting reasonable boundaries within which they can discover themselves and their limitations is the loving thing to do.

Consequences and Time Outs are valuable tools that teach great lessons about the real world.  Parents who set boundaries on everything from video gaming to cell phone use to TV  raise more successful and happy kids.

“I love you too much to let you grow up spoiled.”

Parenting is far less frustrating when you set expectations: “I expect you to get your homework done and the dishes put away before you go on Facebook (Texting, Twitter, whatever…) If you have not completed your work and I find you on any social media, you will lose your phone (or tablet) for one week.”  That’s a very clear boundary and it works – if you keep your word.

I have raised a lot of resilient children. The one line I employed the most was, “I love you too much to let you grow up spoiled. You WILL follow the house rules because I want you to be an amazing person when you grow up.”  As parenting hero John Rosemond says, “Parenting is not a popularity contest.”

These little bundles of joy will not always love us. But if we love them enough to do the right thing, they will sooner or later get over it and finally love us back.

“Aunty” Beth Terry


(For a free copy of my house rules, comment here and I’ll send it to you! Or you can go to my store and find them in both Walking in a Crowd of Angels and in the downloadable book 101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier)


© Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved

About Beth Terry

Beth Terry, CSP, is a speaker, coach, writer and cowgirl. Her audiences are from around the world: she has spoken to almost half a million people in 6 countries. Her passion is watching the "popcorn popper" go off in people's heads when they 'get it.'

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