Setting Boundaries

We have all been in a situation where someone is standing too close to us and we find ourselves wanting to take a step back. Our personal space, or boundary, has been invaded. Physical boundaries protect us and help us decide how and by whom we can be touched. Emotional boundaries protect our thoughts and emotions.

How can you help your child to set healthy boundaries?

You can guide your child through the process of deciding when to share personal thoughts and feelings. For example, private thoughts and feelings are best shared with close friends and family members. Casual friends should talk about non-personal topics such as sports, school and movies.

Before your child can develop healthy relationships, he or she needs to understand the importance of creating a personal "safe space." Appropriate boundaries protect your body, thoughts and feelings. When boundaries are too open, the result can be physically and emotionally dangerous. These are signs that your child's boundaries are too open:

  • Shares personal information with acquaintances or strangers
  • Wears tight or revealing clothing
  • Stands too close to others
  • Makes sexual comments about other people's body parts
  • Has a tendency to believe everything people say

Perhaps your child has found out that a good friend told personal information about him or her to others. You can help your kid understand that such a violation of trust is also a violation of boundaries. Tell your child that people who do not respect boundaries are not good choices for friends. Encourage your child to establish friendships slowly, sharing private thoughts and feelings gradually to ensure that trust is mutual and deserved.