A few tips to setting healthy parental boundaries and help your children

By Vado Sidi, paediatrician and counsellor

What is family?

Family is a psychosocial system with rules, goals, structure and dynamic interactions. It is a system, where whatever happens in one part of it, all the other parts are affected. Think of the family as a pendulum where when one part of it moves, the other parts follow the movement.

What does a child need in a family?

A child needs love, security, support, responsibility and behavioral boundaries. Boundaries work as a protective safety net that teaches children how to coexist harmoniously with others, within the family and in society as a whole.

Is setting boundaries important and why?

Setting boundaries fosters safety and offers stability and direction. It helps children develop responsibility and autonomy as they empower them to develop initiative, cooperation and mutual respect.

What makes boundaries effective in supporting children?

Demarcation is effective when:

  • Boundaries are not rigid.
  • They are clear, unambiguous, stable, have a logical basis
  • They are characterized by verbal consistency (NO is NO), but also non-verbal expression
  • They are supported by both parents. When parents disagree, children get confused
  • They match the age of the child

What advise would you give to parents?

  • As parents you should know:
  • You should not make promises to children when you are not sure that you will keep your promise.A very important way to show your children your love is to have clear, defined boundaries. By setting boundaries for children you teach them the value of discipline, respect, organization and planning.

Finally, respect the child so that he respects you. Avoid negative criticism as much as possible. Always remember that by positively reinforcing the child, you are strengthening their strengths and helping them build their self-esteem.

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Ioanna Nixon, Consultant Oncologist, executive Coach, and author.

Dr Ioanna Nixon is a senior oncologist in Glasgow, UK. She specialises in sarcomas and her research focuses on novel cancer therapies, quality of life and clinical innovations. She has led the Scottish Sarcoma Network since 2015 till early 2022and is the Cancer Innovation Lead for the West of Scotland. She is an honorary clinical senior lecturer at Glasgow University and an academic at Strathclyde Business School, researching on health policy and leadership. She is also an executive coach, specialising on resilience, leadership, and wellness.

Dr Vado Sidi, paediatrician and counsellor

To contact Ioanna: Twitter, LinkedIn 

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