Boundaries with Kids Book Review
Do you have difficulty disciplining your kids? Are you tired of their whining? Are your teens struggling with drugs and peer pressure? Then they need some boundaries!
Now the Gold Medallion, Award-Winning book, Boundaries, has a companion book for children: Boundaries with Kids. The essence of boundaries lies in self-control, responsibility, freedom and love. In the book, Drs. Cloud & Townsend outline ten boundary principles kids need to know, including the laws of responsibility, respect, envy, power, motivation & evaluation.
Though kids may not initially like the word ‘boundaries’, they desperately need them in order to develop the character necessary to avoid becoming irresponsible, manipulative and controlling and instead learn how to eventually lead balanced, productive and fulfilling adult lives.
Parenting is a sacrifice, but it is also a daily blessing. This book reminds parents that children are not born with boundaries; they internalize them from external relationships and discipline. Because of this, a balance needs to exist between freedom, choices and consequences, without allowing your children to emotionally blackmail you. According to the authors:
“The goal is not to control (the) children to make them do what you want. The goal is to give them the choice to do what they want and make it so painful to do the wrong thing that they will not want to.”
One of the most valuable aspects of this book is the six steps for implementing boundaries with kids found in the last chapter.
However, it’s first important to note that these steps are worthless unless you are first implementing boundaries in your own lives. Children will model what they observe in you far more than they will listen to what you say. “It’s hard for kids to grow when they’re not around growing parents.”
Now back to the six steps. Rolling up your sleeves involves:
1. See the Three Realities
a. There really is a problem: Your child is not perfect.
b. The problem really isn’t the problem
c. Time does not heal all
2. Plug In (growth never occurs in a vacuum)
3. Grow in Boundaries Personally (walk the walk)
4. Evaluate & Plan
5. Present the Plan (involve your child & invite them to be part of the process)
6. Follow through over time (personally function as the boundary for the child)
“A child is someone who isn’t an adult, meaning someone without the necessary skills and tools to navigate real life.”
This book is filled with practical, thought provoking statements that will both challenge how to parent while encouraging you to take your understanding of your child to a new level. Here are just a few of the inspiring quotes:
“Who we are today is essentially the result of two forces: our environment and our responses to it…you need to interpret a child’s behavior as a response to your own.” (p. 39)
“Children can handle the known logical consequences of their mistakes, like a time out, loss of TV privileges or loss of a trip to the mall, much better than they can handle relationship consequences like anger, guilt, shame, condemnation or abandonment.” (p.35)
“Children raised with good boundaries learn that they are not only responsible for their lives, but also free to live any way they choose, as long as they take responsibility for their choices…If you raise your children to take control of their own lives, they will be so far ahead of everyone else that success in life is all but guaranteed.” (p.28)
This book not only offers help in establishing boundaries, but ultimately requires you to both take responsibility for your plan as a parent while holding your children responsible for their actions. A person’s character is ultimately their destiny. Responsibility equals ownership. Your goal for your child is that he will gradually learn that what falls within his boundaries – feelings, attitudes and behaviors – are his problem, not someone else’s.
The key to responding to your children regardless of the situation is to respond with empathy, firmness, freedom and consequences. Remember, consequences don’t hurt your children, they free them from themselves.