The Key To Successful Parenting: Teaching Boundaries

Personal Declaration On Parenting

Alexis Ali, Contributor
Alexis Ali, Contributor

Let me start by saying that I do not have children and I am not the kind of woman who has dreamt of reproducing since I found that red stain in my underwear. Sure I want kids but it is not a burning desire.

Maybe this attitude affects me in ways that I am unaware of or maybe what I am about to tell you is true regardless of my feelings on parenthood. I am leaving that up for you to decide and please, understand that this is not meant as an attack on anyone personally but is truly just my feelings as an observer.

The majority of kids are not disciplined these days. I watch commercials of kids running rampant and the actors playing their parents just stare at them in bewilderment. I know these commercials are meant as over exaggerations but sadly, in my experience, they are dead on. I used to work for a company that offered language classes outside of school. The age range was babies to about 12 years old. Of course, I had some amazing kids that made me feel all warm and gushy on the inside. But there were some kids that made me reconsider motherhood.

Misbehaving Children – Max’s Story

Today, I will tell you about one experience that I had that almost made me quit. Before I begin, I have to say that I believe that both children and parents are at fault when a child misbehaves but it is mostly the parent’s fault. They are the only ones that understand the reality of what is happening and they are responsible for helping their child understand their actions. This story will show you just how vital that is.

Teaching children emotional intelligence
Teaching children emotional intelligence

I was working in one of our centers. It was one I did not work in often and I was not familiar with the regular families. But with the teacher’s help, everything went smoothly in the morning and finally the afternoon classes began. All the kids went to their classes and most of their parents left. Including the mother of the star of the story. A little boy, I will call him Max but I honestly cannot recall his name, waited no more than ten minutes before throwing a chair at another little girl in the class and then promptly crawled under the table.

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These kids were about five or six years old. I, of course was brought in and told about the incident but Max refused to come out from under the table. When I calmly told him that this was not okay and that he needed to come for a walk with me, he began growling and telling me that I was a stupid woman. He then crawled over to me and out into the hall. Before I could start talking to him about what he did wrong, he began banging his head against the wall.

Please note, I am not embellishing the story in any way. I tried to hold Max so that he would not hurt himself but he pushed my arms away and crawled down the hall to the back storage area. He then began grabbing out bins of toys and pulling them off the shelves. Any book he could get his hands on, he began to rip. Finally he stopped pulling the bins and then started thrashing around on the floor. He did this for a solid 20 minutes. This entire time, my teachers and I had taken turns trying to call the boy’s mother, who of course had turned her phone off.

We could not reach his mother and she did not show up for three more hours. All this time, Max was crawling up and down the hall, trying to hit other children, throwing toys at the parents in the lobby and trying to take off his clothes. The worst part was that the company had very strict guidelines for what discipline we could give that were extremely limited. So all I could do was sit with him and make sure he did not hurt himself or the other children.

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Teaching Children Boundaries Lovingly

boundaries
Children need boundaries – to recognise and respect them

The mother came back late and was “shocked” to hear about his behavior and assured me that she would talk to him. I looked at her in utter exasperation. No conversation was going to help that child. He had a lot of energy and maybe some anger from his life at home. To this day, I do not know. What I do know is that he needed someone to tell him no. Someone to explain why he should not do the things he was doing. Someone to give him boundaries.

Some parents think that you should never say no to your children because it makes them unhappy and uncreative. In my experience, children need to hear no. They need strict boundaries in place because it not only shows them how the world works but also shows them that someone loves them enough to teach them.


Alexis Ali is a freelance writer who lives in New York. She is the author of our first short story series, “The Unfortunate Life of An Interesting Women.” Alexis will continue her musings and share her perspective as a Not-a-Mommy next week, covering discipline and behaviour management as well as touch on the issue of vaccinations.

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28 thoughts on “The Key To Successful Parenting: Teaching Boundaries

  1. […] the article here and do share your comments on this issue of boundaries and children. Another parent/child […]

  2. […] without bitterness, say what you are unable to continue accepting. That is called establishing your boundary. This is something many of us missed learning growing up but it is never too […]

  3. Boundaries and structure are the most fundamental lessons you can teach your children that will really help shape them throughout their lives.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are absolutely correct on that My daughter and I had a little tiff recently with putting my granddaughter to be at a set time when she visits with me! 🙂 I had to agree and abide by her rules as this was just an example of structure. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  4. Boundaries are everything. And they never stop testing them.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are so correct, children never stop testing your boundaries. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  5. Elizabeth O.

    Saying no to kids is not bad. This will actually teach them that there are boundaries and they should know when to stop.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are so right! Thanks for the comment.:)

  6. I have to agree with you. It’s sad that majority of kids are not disciplined. Parents should say NO to their children.

    1. Ms Claudette

      The sad part is that eventually the kids will learn but it will be the hard way for many! 🙂

  7. I think kids do need structure and rules. They may rebel against it, but they actually feel secure with those parameters in place.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Full agree with you and thanks for the comment! 🙂

  8. I’m trying to peacefully and gently parent my son right now and setting boundaries is hard to do but so necessary!

    1. Ms Claudette

      I like how you phrase it – “peacefully and gently” – no better way, hard as it might be, All the best! 🙂

  9. I tell my kids no all the time…maybe too much. They actually behave better in public than at home, which is good thing for the public, not so good for me 😉

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s so funny Shann. Thanks for the comment and the smile 🙂

  10. No is an important lesson, you can`t give them everything; it isn`t realistic.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It certainly is not realistic and so no is really a valuable word. Thanks Curtis!

  11. i have 5 kids from ages 2 to 10. Boundaries are definitely needed because if not they will walk all over you.

    1. Ms Claudette

      And five kids trampling over you would not be funny! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  12. I agree that boundaries are important and that they have to start at home. This boy sounds like he was very frustrated, and perhaps was venting a lot of anger, but since people only saw him at school, how would they ever really know what he was going through and why he behaved that way. Perhaps the mother knew, but wasn’t sure how to deal with it either, or perhaps she too was frustrated and did not have the skill set to deal with the boy’s emotional issues.

    It is very sad because the child relies on the parent to teach them right from wrong.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You make a very good point there Sicorra that the child could be acting out of anger re happenings at home. Things are never really black or white are they? 🙂

  13. This is very important. I don’t have children but I appreciate this post. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You are welcome Candia and thank you for leaving a comment. Namaste 🙂

  14. My oldest is 21 and my youngest is 13. I learned a long time ago how important boundaries are. It does not help the child at all. Everyone needs to hear no once in a while.

    1. Ms Claudette

      So very true! Thanks for your comment and for reading. Namaste 🙂

  15. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I totally agree – kids do need to hear no sometimes. Maybe not all the time, but how else will they learn?

    1. Ms Claudette

      My daughter told me yesterday that Kitten, my granddaughter, has started to use her new teeth in ways other than for eating. When something she likes is taken from her, her response is to bite the hand of the person who did the “taking.” My daughter was perplexed even while saying to this one year old – “No, no.” She wondered what else she can do to cut this behaviour dead in its tracks. I told her, she use have to tell her no and find positive reinforcements. Kitten is a copy cat and once you present her with another way, she will follow. Most children, if not all, follow what they see and are encouraged to do. Thanks for your comment. Namaste 🙂

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