Have you ever experienced an ongoing question from a child that just drives you crazy? They asked, you answered, but the begging and pleading continued?
My kids used to ask me questions about various things over and over again, trying desperately, but not knowingly, to wear me down.
Child – “Mom, can I have another cookie?” Me – “No, you have not had your breakfast yet.” Child – “Please, please, please, why not? I’ll eat breakfast with the cookie. Please, Mom? Mom, why can’t I? Please, just one?” and on and on…
Even if the situation was not as simple as the cookie example, have you ever found that your child or children are pushing your “boundaries” over and over again?
In my professional opinion, this boundary-pushing is here for a reason. It is an opportunity for us as parents to look at how we are creating our boundaries for our family, where these boundaries are coming from, and what kind of energy we are bringing to the table when we state these boundaries and how we hold them in a firm pattern, consistently, with love and kindness.
How do you hold your boundaries?
I have found that the following process works well for me:
First, gain clarity. What is it that you want to create boundaries around? Sit with it, and really, truly evaluate the need for each boundary. Why is it important to you? Once you have established this, write down what this looks like for you.
Simple example: If it is about cookies, how many and when?
Secondly, don’t create boundaries out of FEAR. Be sure that you are creating this boundary from your inner values and commitments as a parent. We don’t want to create boundaries out of fear, but instead, love and values.
In the case of the cookie, perhaps you might be afraid if they eat too many they will bounce off the walls or gain too much weight. If this is more about fear of an undesired consequence than about the actual values we hold, it is time to refocus. For example, realize that while you want the best for your child, a good breakfast is an important start to our day, and it is for that reason that you are setting the boundary, not fear of their energy levels or weight.
Present the boundary when needed with love and commitment, but simply stated. It does not have to be a long drawn out explanation. You answer the question simply but from the work above.
For example: No cookies before breakfast. In our family, we have a sweet after dinner.
That is all that is needed. If you say too much, you open the door for an ongoing discussion. When communicating with our children, the simplistic and clear approach is best.
Then, stay with your boundary. Be committed. If your child comes back begging or arguing, this is where the “question asked and answered” response can come in. Your child already asked this question and you already answered it. This is not said with a tone. It is completely neutral and loving.
Next, try to move on to the next thing. Ask your child a question, or discuss something else. We don’t want to just leave this hanging in the air. One question has been answered, and it is time to move to the next topic.
“Question Asked and Answered”
I have to admit that both my children used this phrase in responding to my 4-year-old granddaughter recently. As much as they did not like it themselves growing up, I think that now they realize the importance of moving on. It was certainly a surprise to hear them saying this out loud.
If you need help in committing to your boundaries, gaining clarity on your values or moving forward in parenting more consciously, please reach out. Visit my website at www.decaroparentcoaching.com.