Why is it so hard to say no?
Or maybe you do say no, but then later backtrack or give in.
Here’s a quick example of something I’ve done in the past:
- I created a rule that my kids have to put away their own laundry
- But sometimes…I just put it away for them. Seems faster.
- Then on future laundry days, I complain and yell because the kids aren’t proficient at putting their laundry away and I’m left doing all the laundry related work.
Well, it’s a vicious cycle, and I am the creator of it 🙃🙃🙃.
We all struggle in different areas to hold our parenting boundaries.
And then later, you may feel annoyed and resentful that no one respects your boundaries.
7 Reasons Why Parents Struggle to Hold Boundaries
Do you fall into any of these reasons?
These are all important areas to think about when creating and holding boundaries in parenting.
It can help you discern what is holding you back from honoring the boundaries that are important to you.
1. Holding boundaries is a lot of work.
Some boundaries are easier to hold than others.
For example, screen time may be easier to hold because it involves withholding something. No candy is another boundary that involves withholding something.
However, a boundary such as you need to stay in your room after 7 pm is a more work-intensive boundary. If a child is struggling to stay in bed, it is ultimately up to me to hold the boundary.
This means, I may end up sitting in the doorway or laying with my child temporarily to ensure they stay in bed. And that involves time and effort.
Read This: The Big Reason Why Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child Isn’t Working
2. No one enjoys listening to the whining and crying.
Listening to your child not like your boundary can be especially triggering. It’s like you have to hold this boundary AND listen to a really annoying tantrum at the same time.
That’s specifically frustrating for many parents, and I relate big time.
3. We want to fix it.
We all want our kids to be happy. And immediate gratification is so satisfying. Whew, they stopped crying.
Do you relate?
It’s so triggering, and you’re in fight or flight mode, your first reaction is just to make it end so you can move onto something else.
4. We feel guilty and responsible for the emotions of others.
This is something that can start as early as childhood.
Here’s a quick example of how our brains can start to wire for the idea that we are responsible for fixing the emotions of others:
Let’s say a little girl named Sarah is at the park and she asks another child, Elizabeth, to play with her.
Elizabeth says, “I don’t want to play with you right now.” (This is Elizabeth setting a boundary. She is establishing a preference).
Sarah is now crying.
And Elizabeth hears a grown up tell her, “Look you made her sad and cry. You need to make her feel better.”
This is a classic example of a child trying to set a healthy boundary for herself.
It’s also a classic example of an adult (inadvertently) telling the child:
- not only to ignore their boundary
- but to also to carry the responsibility of another person’s emotional reaction.
Omph. That’s a lot of responsibility.
If you experienced any similar example at any given point in your life, then it makes perfect sense why you may struggle with tuning into to your own boundaries and holding them.
5. We are regularly taught to ignore our own boundaries.
Sometimes this starts in childhood, where maybe in your home growing up, you wanted to set some preferences (boundaries) for yourself, but you were not allowed.
It also shows up in parenting where we are told to be self-sacrificing as possible for our children’s sake. We are told to plan on not sleeping for a really long time. We are told to soak up every moment and play with them all the time. And feed them only food cooked from scratch.
We are told to put them in all sorts of activities as young as possible or they will never succeed. We are told to give up the things we love, and even if we don’t like doing something to just keep going anyway.
Here’s a thought:
How can parents be strong leaders when they aren’t listening to their core boundaries? How can parents be a strong example to their children for setting healthy boundaries if we encourage martyrdom?
6. It’s not really a boundary for you.
This is when things start to fall in the “should” category.
- You should teach your kids to do this.
- You should teach your kids to do that.
But in reality, you don’t really care if your kids do this or that.
There are so many cultural pressures out there in parenting.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the white noise and get out of sync with what you really want for your kids or what you want the rules of your home to be.
Boundaries in parenting are senseless unless they align with what you’re okay with and what you’re not okay with.
Boundaries are your individual preferences as a parent. No one else’s.
7. We expect kids to hold our boundaries.
This is a really tricky one.
Here’s the crazy thing about boundaries:
Boundaries are about what WE will enforce and uphold. They require our kids to do nothing if they so choose.
In most situations, kids will learn to adapt to our boundaries. This adaptation can happen both short-term and long-term.
But unfortunately for us as parents (because it would certainly be nice if boundaries didn’t involve us doing something) adaptation does not equal holding boundaries for us.
It is still up to us to hold boundaries.
Which boundaries do you struggle to hold with kids?
We are all human. It is completely natural to struggle holding boundaries. I know I do!
The most important part is awareness.
Understanding why you struggle with any particular boundary will ultimately help you:
- Get to the core of what are your real boundaries. What are your core preferences?
- Clarify and fine tune the boundaries you want to keep and eliminate others that don’t serve a purpose.
Print this free listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join 37,000+ parents who receive my weekly parenting tips and ideas!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on boundaries?
- Boundaries in Parenting – 7 Principles for Setting Healthy Limits With Kids
- The Big Reason Why Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child Isn’t Working
- Boundaries, Routines and Early Bedtimes: 13 Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids
Want more on parenting?
- The Most Overlooked Reason Why Kids Won’t Listen
- 7 Powerful Ways to Deal With Whining All The Time
- How to Get a Child to Follow a Routine Without Reminders
- How to Put a Child to Sleep Fast
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with teaching your child to listen, this series will help transform your parenting. Yes, really. I've seen my proven strategies work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
After taking my free email series, you will:
- Learn simple, yet highly effective listening strategies
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