In a previous post, I discussed the relationship between boundaries and respect. The two are so closely related to each other that if you haven’t read it, I suggest you read it before going any further. You can find it HERE It’s called: One Of The Most Important Parenting Skills Required Today.
Suffice to say that if you are feeling disrespected, you are not alone but you probably think that it is others in your life that are causing you the disrespect you feel? Yes?
It might not be that simple! Stick with me here, it will soon become much clearer.
No matter what you do, you can’t seem to get it right. You know you should be able to set effective boundaries and hold the limits around screen time AND other things too, but as hard as you try, more often than not, the boundary you set is ineffective.
You say YES when you know you should say NO. You say NO and wonder why you did!
The pushback you get from your child causes you to either cave or put your foot down too hard. You don’t listen to what it is you really need and don’t respect yourself for not giving yourself what you need or giving your child what you know they need.
Another battle. Caught in a spiral.
Your inability to set healthy boundaries makes you feel like your child takes advantage of you and you feel like a disrespected doormat. Yes?
I hear you. I know what this feels like. I felt this way for a long time, but no longer. And I’m going to share with you HOW I changed it. This 6 step process will show you exactly what you need to do.
STEP 1: GOING BENEATH THE SURFACE
Having read the first blog post in the series, hopefully, you will now have a better understanding of the relationship between boundaries and respect, and the impact of it on your ability to set boundaries and hold the limits. It is pivotal to you being able to bring about change because it is THIS that is wreaking havoc with your ability to set healthy boundaries. Remember the cycle:
- You are not setting effective boundaries and holding the limits
- You find yourself feeling frustrated, impatient and tired
- You blame your kids for not listening to you and respecting you and project your frustration and anger onto them for it
- You feel disrespected by your kids
- You look to your kids for the respect that you are not giving yourself and they don’t give it to you either
- You are not listening to yourself, respecting yourself or meeting your own needs
- You have even less respect in your tank
- With less respect, you are less able to set the boundary…
- You become more frustrated, impatient and tired…
- Caught in the cycle.
STEP 2: UNDERSTANDING WHY YOU NEED BOUNDARIES
You need boundaries for two reasons:
- to protect what you value and need and,
- to connect you to those needs.
It is in the setting of a boundary that YOU MEET AND HONOR YOUR OWN BASIC NEEDS (self-respect, self-love, self-compassion, self-appreciation, self-care, self-worth, self-everything) & PROTECT WHAT YOU VALUE (and that includes meeting your child’s needs – you value that).
The problem is that we tend to only associate boundaries with rules and teaching and miss the most important reason for why we have to set them.
It is not just your children who need to be heard, seen, and validated and feel they matter and are worthy.
You do too!
And by setting boundaries, you give and show yourself all of it: respect, gratitude, validation, appreciation and compassion and through your boundaries, allow yourself to feel heard, be seen, and feel worthy.
Setting boundaries is, therefore, one of the highest levels of respect you can show for yourself.
STEP 3: UNDERSTANDING WHY YOUR CHILDREN NEED THEM
Children need boundaries for exactly the same reasons as we do PLUS the ones listed below:
- To learn to live within them
- To learn to tolerate frustration
- To learn to delay gratification
- To learn the world does not revolve around them
- To learn to tolerate the normal give and take of life
Boundaries offer more than just containment. They offer safety, security, and comfort to our children. They also help children know in advance of what to expect. Without boundaries children are “lost”. Boundaries almost act like a GPS system for children.
As such, we need to set boundaries for our children until they can learn to set them for themselves. We have to do it to make sure they get what they need: sleep, healthy fresh food, a shower, manners (if that’s important to you), be on time, learn to be organized, eat regularly, play, time away from screens, time in nature, wild unstructured play, time to be bored, be creative, time to ponder and simple BE and more. It will all depend on what you value for them.
The other super important thing is this: we need to role model our own healthy boundary setting to teach our children to be able to the same for themselves. To show them how to value, respect and honor themselves and protect what they need.
STEP 4: LEARNING TO SEPARATE YOUR FEELINGS FROM YOUR CHILD’S BEHAVIOR
Dr. Shefali Tsabary (author of The Awakened Family) believes that an inherent part of our struggle to set healthy boundaries is because we fail to separate our feelings from the other person’s behavior.
In other words, we allow ourselves to feel a certain way based on the behavior of others. This causes us to be triggered. And it is that feeling that causes us to struggle to set the boundary.
Let’s take respect.
When you allow yourself to feel disrespected by your child’s behavior, it becomes impossible to set an effective boundary or hold the limit. When you are emotional, you react in more primal ways (fight, flight, freeze) and find it hard or next to impossible to remain cool, calm and collected.
We have to be able to separate our feeling from their behavior:
“I love you. I do not love that behavior”
When we mix the two, we end up in toxic patterns that only serve to disconnect us from each other.
Because after all is said and done, boundaries, when healthy, help to connect us not disconnect us.
STEP 5: DECONSTRUCTING YOUR UNDER-LYING FEARS
We often have all sorts of skewed beliefs and fears around what someone will think of us if we say no! And believe it or not, we inherit some of this from the generations before us.
We worry that our child might not like us, or accept us. We don’t want our child to think we are mean and worry that if we say no, he/she will reject us or worse still, not love us.
When our sense of “self” becomes caught up and mired in saying YES, a boundary that forces us to say NO, becomes too hard for us to do as it undermines and contradicts who it is we are and what we actually value.
The problem, therefore, often lies in our not wanting to upset the other, not look like we are being mean and not wanting to hurt the feelings of another, and have them not like us as a result of saying NO!
So what do we do?
We say yes!
In saying yes, we avoid it all.
But at what cost?
When we say YES to things we know we should be saying NO to, it creates dis-ease within us. We know that we are not being true to ourselves and what we value.
Let’s look at the original example from the post titled: One Of The Most Important Parenting Skills Required Today.
Remember, Ella’s mom was on her phone, distracted (work and texting friends) and realized that her 8 year old had been on her iPad for an hour and a half…
“Ella, you have now been on your iPad for an hour and a half? You know we decided that you were only allowed 45 minutes on it. Why are you still on it?” she shouts to her daughter from her office.
Ella ignored her.
She said it again, this time with more frustration. In the meantime, she sent a couple more texts to her friend…
“Mom, please, I’m in the middle of a game, if I stop now, I’ll lose all my points.” Ella shouts back!
“Put it off now.” Shouts her mom as she marches from her office to the living room.
“Mom, you are horrible. I hate you. You are so mean.” Ella wails as her mom grabs the iPad from her.
“You are being so disrespectful of me right now, that’s it. No more iPad this week. Give it to me. NOW!” she tells her.
Sound familiar. Same old. Like a stuck record right. Can’t get off the mouse-wheel. Feeling frustrated, disrespected and not heard.
The reality is that this mom knows that her daughter should not spend this amount of time on her iPad (time OFF it is what she values). As such, she feels guilty for not having helped Ella manage the time limit more effectively, after all, she is only 8!
To complicate this further, in the back of her mind, she hates saying no to Ella because she fears that Ella will not like her and hate her for it (look what Ella said to her: she confirmed her deepest fear). She finds herself caught between not wanting to stop Ella doing something she knows she loves, the fact she knows that too much time is not good for Ella’s developing brain, being seen as mean and having to buy herself more time to work.
She let her feelings become caught up in it all and she failed to separate her own feelings from Ella’s behavior and her own.
The result: Ella mirrors her mom’s lack of self-respect for not holding the limits right back at her mom, and her mom then blames Ella for her feeling disrespected. All as a result of a boundary violation.
Now she is totally disconnected from Ella and she feels awful.
The whole situation flew in the face of her values and beliefs and left her feeling worn out and exhausted. It created dis-ease within her.
I have worked with many parents over the years on finding solutions to struggles just like this. If you found yourself nodding your head saying “Yup, that’s me” when you read this example, I can help you. The Boundaries Guide & Workbook HERE will help you take the next step.
STEP 6: TYING IT ALTOGETHER
Until this mom can see that it is not Ella who causes her to feel disrespected, frustrated, impatient and overwhelmed but instead herself, as a result of her not being able to set an effective boundary and hold the limits that were decided upon, nothing will change.
When I made the choice to slow our lives down, found more balance, and began to see boundaries in this light and fully understood just how important a role they play, and what doing them would do to transform my life and role as a parent, I became much more inspired and motivated to really turn things around. This was the impetus I needed to really change things.
It has been so powerful for me that I wanted to share it with you so that you can experience it too.
Do let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.
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PPS. Did you know I have a podcast with over 100 episodes on all things parenting? You can find it HERE – The Parenting In The Thick Of It Show.