“No!” It’s the word that kids seem to hate hearing from their parents or even other authority figures; teachers and coaches. The response to that word is often a huge emotional reaction to pressure that adult to turn that two-letter word into an open door of freedom. Sometimes it seems that adults are caught off guard by the oppositional behavior. The sweet obedient child has morphed into a dragon! What can be done?!
It starts with a fundamental understanding about children and boundaries. Children are not born with boundaries. It is the nature of every child to choose his or her own way. It is the task of the parent primarily to be the guardian, (protecting the child from their drive for self-indulgence), to be the manager, (guiding the child to complete necessary tasks in life), and use the resources that parents provide.
In the book, Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, describe the character qualities that good boundaries will produce. They suggest it starts with parents having boundaries themselves and then teaching, modeling, and providing life experiences to help their kids internalize the truths that boundaries represent.
The second half of the book lists 10 boundary principles that every kid should have. There is the reality principle: true change occurs when a person’s behavior causes him to encounter real life consequences. Those consequences of pain and loss accurately depict the positive and negative sides of life. There are the laws of power and respect, motivation, and evaluation. When kids learn the law of proactivity, they become less reactive and tantrums decrease. There are laws navigating envy and honesty. Kids are taught to be proactive and take responsibility for themselves in an age appropriate way.
Boundaries with Kids, gives parents an encouraging guide to confidently face their children despite their unpleasant reactions to boundaries being set. Parents can see behind the fiery dragon and see a beloved child that God created.