Boundaries and Expectations |

Boundaries and Expectations

Continuing on the theme of reviewing the eight Developmental Assets — strengths that all youth should have according to research done by the Search Institute of Minnesota — I would like to focus this article on Boundaries and Expectations.

Whenever I refer to boundaries in a conversation with my husband, he rolls his eyes — perhaps because it is vernacular in the field of youth development, not a concept for everyday conversation. What is meant by the word, Boundaries? Setting boundaries, role modeling appropriate boundaries, and having good boundaries all refers to appropriate behavior in various contexts and situations. For example, as a parent or role model to a child, good boundaries might look like this:

• Setting rules and consequences at home, school and in the neighborhood.

• Monitoring children’s behavior at home, school and in the neighborhood.

• Role modeling appropriate behaviors and actions.

Poor boundaries or a lack of boundaries would look like this:

• Letting it slide, again and again, when a child breaks the rules.

• Not monitoring our children’s behavior.

• Exposing our children to inappropriate role models and forgetting that we are role models ourselves.

You get the point!

As my six-year-old transitioned in to a summer schedule, it became clear quite quickly that she needed to get to bed earlier during the week in order to get through swimming lessons, camp, T-ball, etc. While she fought this adamantly, she also fell asleep within two minutes when she went down. Despite the arguments, we stuck with the schedule and she quickly came to accept it. Kids crave boundaries — but they won’t ask for them and they just don’t always have the words to verbalize it. They need structure and to learn what is appropriate and what is not. They will push you to test these limits, so stay strong!

Creating boundaries and expectations should start early, so don’t be afraid to do so. It will serve our children well throughout childhood, in to the teenage years and beyond.

To find out more about how you can become a mentor and help role model appropriate boundaries, call the Buddy Program at 927-1001 (Aspen to Carbondale). For more information on mentoring youth from Glenwood to Rifle call Youth Zone at 945-9300.

— Lindsay Lofaro is the program director for The Buddy Program.

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