This is vital for helping a child develop healthy boundaries. When a child expresses a disinterest in hugging or kissing someone they are setting a boundary. Rather than taking offense, I encourage those in my children’s world to wait until they are offering affection on their own because then it is truly a gift.
Affection is an expression of comfort with someone. I do not walk up on the street and kiss and hug complete strangers walking by. This is how it feels to a child who is forced to show affection to Aunt May who they have never met. If Aunt May really wants genuine affection, she would be well served to be a person who respects boundaries and gives the child a chance to see that not only is she safe, but a really neat aunt who they can enjoy and be affectionate with.
ASK YOURSELF “WHY?”
I take a personal assessment any time I’m not sure how I feel or am trying to figure out why a child may be acting the way they are. Often I find myself tense and starting to raise my voice and when I step back and take a breath I realize it’s because I’m ignoring my bladder’s boundary and I need to excuse myself to the bathroom, or my stomach’s boundary and I haven’t eaten all day.
I may also be ignoring my personal boundaries and allowing a child to push on something that is really a non-negotiable issue, and by setting the boundary and walking away I can remove myself from the power struggle. This is very helpful when my children are acting in some way that is unpleasant. By asking, “What would cause me to act that way?” I can often find a good starting place for addressing what is really going on.
A child testing the boundaries needs to be reassured that the boundary is secure.
BEHAVIOR IS A MESSAGE
Behavior is something that we must each learn how to control for ourselves. Because of that, we are best served to view an individual’s behavior as a message to us revealing what is going on inside of them and in their lives. A child testing the boundaries needs to be reassured that the boundary is secure. Once that is done you will have an opportunity to find out why they were testing the boundaries. Often it is because there is some threat in another area of their lives, or some personal insecurity they are feeling and they need to know you are bigger than them and can keep them safe.
- If we attempt to control behavior then we are not able to hear the message it is conveying.
- If we assign a negative intent to behavior we assume the message about our children reveals flaws in them.
- And if we ignore behavior we simply miss the message altogether.
The better we are at hearing the messages our children are sending us through their behavior, the better we will be able to set healthy boundaries for them and help them to become happy, HEALTHY, adults.