It’s only natural for every parent of a young child to have that moment where you realize your baby just turned into a little person. They have a mind of their own. They want to do things their own way. You take a step back and notice that things could quickly start to spiral out of control. The saying “Oh that’s just what babies do” is soon to turn into a very disobedient toddler.
Setting boundaries matters to both children and parents. In fact, it matters to everyone that interacts with you and your kids.
If you have a little one at home and are wondering if you should start some sort of boundaries, the easy answer is yes. Starting from the beginning matters…
1. Childrearing becomes easier on you.
We create barriers steel barricades to our own parenting by offering our child complete freedom to be selfish, willful, and self-centered, then suddenly, a few years later, to change it up expect respect, consideration, and self-control.
2. Childrearing becomes easier on your child.
Kinder and wiser we are, as parents, to set boundaries from the outset. No big shock to the system. Your child will avoid feelings of betrayal because you won’t be changing the rules all of a sudden one day. Understanding expectations and limits from the beginning enables your child to have more confidence and trust in you as a parent.
3. What is cute now, won’t be cute later.
Often babies or pre-toddlers do things, and we may think or say, ‘Oh, he’s just a baby.’ Unfortunately in no time at all the baby will become a toddler, and what they are doing will no longer be ‘Oh, he’s just a baby.’ Instead, it will be ‘Wow. He’s a wild toddler.’ Is there something you allow your baby to do that you would never envision him doing at age 3 or 5 or 7? This is a great opportunity to start thinking about early boundaries.
4. The foundation set today will have lasting future effects.
If you start early, you are encouraging your child to embrace behaviors you like. Every correct, helpful, positive characteristic will now have an opportunity to shine through. Starting the basics, enables both parents and children to build on cooperation over time.
5. There is no need to go to extremes.
While I do think boundaries early is important, there is no reason to go to extremes. Boundaries are not baby bootcamp, nor is it an all-day affair. There is no reason to expect only behaviors you like. In fact, you should expect a lot of behaviors you don’t like for quite a while. Importantly though, you can teach a few basic boundary concepts starting at 6-12 months without going to extremes.
6. Children are always learning.
Children are always learning at all ages. It’s important to teach our children what we want them to learn, rather than allowing them to learn by default. Or worse, to allow them to teach themselves. It is much harder to undo a child’s default learning than it is to teach them from the get go.
7. Younger children are more impressionable.
Easier to shape, younger children are amazing sponges for early boundaries. The process is more enjoyable to them, not stressful. Children are also far less willful at younger ages, making it easier for you to understand them and teach them. Young children also are more focused on you. They need and want you more, making it easier to motivate with both praise and corrections.
If you’ve been thinking about starting early boundaries, you have a fabulous opportunity to start teaching your child from a very young age. The investment you make today in your child will pay off (with interest) in the long term.