Setting healthy boundaries with toddlers

This one little statement is so simple (no pun intended—Simply@ Lemonade ?), but so HUGE!

After reading an article about setting boundaries with children, Lebrean and I started being very intentional about it with Davis. A lot of my stress as a mom comes from from feeling like I have to get everything done and still respond immediately to his every whim. And I really don’t!

Like, really, moms! We don’t!

So on this day, I was unloading the dishwasher while he was eating lunch, and he said, “Mommy, may I please have some more lemonade in a minute? When you get a break?”

He’s getting it!!! And I didn’t feel anxiety/pressure in response to his request!

Now, how did we get here?

It was a combination of direct conversations and practicing our strategies.

Direct Conversations Based on Davis’s personality and maturity level right now (age 4), we figured that he’s able to grasp the concept of respecting boundaries in this way. So we started having direct conversations with him. We would say things like, “Ok, listen. Sometimes, we may have work to do, or we may need to finish doing some laundry, or…[fill in the blanks]. it doesn’t mean we don’t love you or that we don’t care, but if you need something from us and it’s not an emergency, you may have to wait until we finish what we’re doing first.”

At this point, it’s easy for them to say “ok” and keep it moving, but it can be a different story when they actually have to wait for something they want. So that’s where it becomes important to put it into practice!

Practicing Strategies – It wouldn’t have done any good to have these conversations, then jump up to immediately honor his very first request. So we had to be very intentional when it was time to show him. When he asked for something, even if we weren’t doing anything, we would say something like, “Ok. Give me 5 minutes, and I’ll get it for you.” This was key: Give them some kind of time frame. Don’t just say, “Wait.” Let them know that you’re setting a boundary for yourself and for them. Even if they don’t fully understand how long 5 minutes is, you’re at least letting them know that you’re holding yourself accountable to this time frame, and that what they need/want is important enough to set a time frame.

It wasn’t instant for us, and it likely won’t be instant for you, but it’s worth it for your own sanity!

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