Mindful Parenting and Boundaries
Boundaries: Sharing the sense of power- your child needs to feel powerful too!
by jen armstrong
This may seem like a crazy idea, giving a sense of power to your infant child, however there is method in the madness! This is a method by which your child will feel a sense of control and power in a situation which requires a choice, or discipline, but it remains in your control. This is because you are just giving the illusion of choice, when really both choices are ones you will have already picked and are happy with.
The basic concept of this is about choices and consequences and a form of setting boundaries. You are allowing your child to have a choice so therefore they feel a sense of power in the situation, however you are setting the boundary of what that choice, and outcome, can be.
You give your child an option, such as, you can go to bed now on time and then there is time for them to receive their bedtime stories, this way there is an incentive for the child to make the right decision by going to bed on time. If your child decides to go to bed later than they should, then that privilege of bedtime stories is taken away from them. Its plain and simple, and when it comes to saying goodnight, and they don’t get their stories/milk/whatever you may have chosen, then you remind them that it was their decision which resulted in this outcome. This will help foster their independent thought and also an understanding that their choices are respected and have a direct impact on their positive or negative experience.
Another example is when it comes to having a treat or not, and using this as a discipline technique to teach your child about positive and negative choices and consequences. For example, if you eat all of your dinner then you can have a treat after, but if you don’t eat all of your dinner then you won’t get a treat after. It’s a simple concept as, if it gets to after dinnertime and your child hasn’t eaten all of their dinner then they don’t get their treat, but that was their choice, nothing to do with you.
Another important element of teaching this to children is not only their independence, but also the fact that they can learn from their own mistakes and decisions, rather than feeling as though they are being punished by the decision of an adult, which in turn makes them feel powerless. It can be hard to stick to and easier to give in at times, but it is ever more important that you stick to this technique to teach them independence of thought and taking responsibility for their own choices. This can be started from a very early age, with regards to choosing between toys. Laying out a toy of two in front on your child and letting them explore them, without you interrupting or introducing further toys or stimuli is a good way to begin to introduce independent thought and action.
So try introducing this into your home, whether your child is 5 months or 5 years, it could have a positive impact on your child’s development and also your ability to get your child to do what you need them to without dictating or nagging!
‘independence is a gift, allow them to experience it’