Got Boundaries

Friendships are strengthened when kids learn how to hold their boundary

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Build Confidence

Though confidence comes more easily to some kids than others, it is a main ingredient in holding boundaries.

 “Confidence is the key,” says Dale Bourie, head instructor of USA Karate in Cordova.     “When someone wants you to do something you don’t want to do, it is okay and even right to question their friendship.” Reminding kids of this will reinforce their confidence in their own good judgment.

Helping kids reach goals is a solid way to boost their self-assurance. “Ability and practice brings confidence,” says Bourie, “whether it’s karate, soccer, or holding your boundary.” And as your child’s confidence grows, so does his ability to recognize manipulation.

“Manipulation is really in the same category as bullying,” says Bourie, “in that you have someone trying to get a reaction from you.” Appleton adds that not only does confidence help her kids spot a manipulator, but it also serves as damage control when dealing with a bossy friend.

“I have seen my son grow to a point where he knows he is strong mentally and physically, and that has helped others’ actions have less of a negative effect on him.”  


Communicate Clearly

Communication is vital in helping kids deal with controlling friends. “I keep asking questions,” says mom Michelle Sumner, “until I have a good understanding of the situation and can then help them through it.”

Sumner says she often prays with her kids and reminds them that they are loved and valued despite others’ opinions.

Thomas emphasizes that the most effective way for parents to communicate how to be respectively assertive is to model it themselves. “Modeling healthy relationships is extremely important,” says Thomas. “For instance, I often have kids report overhearing a parent on the phone agreeing to a commit-ment he or she does not want to be a part of, then getting off the phone and saying just the opposite.”  

Viewing media is also an excellent way to open the doors of communication. Thomas suggests movies such as Karate Kid and Chrissa: An American Girl. “Films that provide strong visuals of kids successfully navigating these types of relationships are extremely effective in helping kids find their own voice.”  

“You were right, Mom,” my daughter proclaimed to me recently. “I will meet controlling people everywhere I go.” This time, however, there are no tears or even questions for me. Just a declaration at the end of her story:
“I’m holding my boundary.”

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