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5 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Set Healthy Boundaries

Hi TFT community! I am Christina Furnival, a mom of two, a licensed psychotherapist, and a children’s book author. My social-emotional children’s book series Capable Kiddos supports kids and their adults to feel capable to handle whatever comes their way. The first book in the series is The Not-So-Friendly Friend -- How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships, which helps kids learn what friendship should look like, that they matter and have the right to speak up for themselves, and how to set boundaries.

I am here today to share with you five tips to teach your children how to set boundaries.

Tip #1: Foster your children’s social-emotional skills

This is a super foundational step that is beneficial whether you are looking to teach your children how to set boundaries or not! Social-emotional skills are the ability to understand and relate to yourself and others, and they are critical for self-control, emotional regulation, empathy, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and healthy relationships.

To help your children recognize, identify, label, and express their feelings, parents can take age-specific approaches. When children are young, parents can narrate or “sportscast” what they see their child doing and what they guess their child is feeling to support the development of emotional language.

As children grow and gain practice expressing themselves and interacting with others, parents can engage in reflective dialogues where they process with their children in a moment of calm following an incident. This helps children unify their experience with what objectively happened and problem-solve for future events.

This knowledge helps your children to trust their experience and be able to express themselves when boundaries are needed.

Tip #2: Break down what a good (and bad) friendship or relationship may look like

Empower your children with the knowledge of what a healthy and unhealthy friendship or relationship is. Get specific with your children about what someone who treats them well might say and do, and how your children would likely feel after spending time with them. Repeat this formula, speaking about someone who mistreats others.

With this information, your children will be able to identify much more readily when they are not being treated well and will reinforce that they are worth being treated with love and kindness. Children need to know this to feel worthy of setting boundaries for protection.

Tip #3: Talk with your kids about boundaries

Knowing what a boundary is and how it is so beneficial (throughout life!) can encourage your children to set healthy boundaries.

The dictionary definition for boundary is “a line that marks the limits of an area.” In terms of people, I define boundaries as “a spoken limit that clearly states what you find acceptable (or not) in the actions of another person towards you or others.”

Interpersonal boundaries are a superpower for having agency and control in your own life and experiences. They allow you to be your true self and for your friendships and relationships to be honest, clear, and mutually enjoyable. Also, the ability to set boundaries is linked with higher self-worth, self-love, self-respect, and assertiveness. What a gift to give our kids!

Tip #4: Model self-love and encourage it in your kids

Part of being able to set boundaries lies in believing you are worthy of having your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs heard. You and your kids are more likely to believe that if you value yourselves!

Celebrate yourself, your efforts, and your unique traits, and celebrate these in your children as well! Speak positively of yourself and your children, use language that encourages a growth mindset and the beauty of imperfection, and practice an attitude of gratitude—including about yourself and your children!

Tip #5: Model boundary-setting and empower your children to practice

We all know that our kids often mimic what they see us do, even more than what they hear us preach. Boundary-setting is no exception. If we want to encourage and empower our kids to set boundaries, they need to see us doing the same.

Encouraging our children to set boundaries also means accepting that they will set boundaries with us and other family members. Parents need to still have authority, but ideally, we need to weigh our children’s wants and needs when it comes to honoring their boundaries and encouraging them to use their voices.

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5 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Set Healthy Boundaries

Read Christina Furnival's five tips on how to teach your children how to set boundaries

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Key takeaways

1

Licensed psychotherapist and children’s book author, Christina Furnival shares five powerful strategies to help our kids set healthy boundaries

2

Setting healthy boundaries is a skill that can be learned like any other

3

The keys are open, honest communication, and healthy modeling

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5 minutes

Hi TFT community! I am Christina Furnival, a mom of two, a licensed psychotherapist, and a children’s book author. My social-emotional children’s book series Capable Kiddos supports kids and their adults to feel capable to handle whatever comes their way. The first book in the series is The Not-So-Friendly Friend -- How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships, which helps kids learn what friendship should look like, that they matter and have the right to speak up for themselves, and how to set boundaries.

I am here today to share with you five tips to teach your children how to set boundaries.

Tip #1: Foster your children’s social-emotional skills

This is a super foundational step that is beneficial whether you are looking to teach your children how to set boundaries or not! Social-emotional skills are the ability to understand and relate to yourself and others, and they are critical for self-control, emotional regulation, empathy, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and healthy relationships.

To help your children recognize, identify, label, and express their feelings, parents can take age-specific approaches. When children are young, parents can narrate or “sportscast” what they see their child doing and what they guess their child is feeling to support the development of emotional language.

As children grow and gain practice expressing themselves and interacting with others, parents can engage in reflective dialogues where they process with their children in a moment of calm following an incident. This helps children unify their experience with what objectively happened and problem-solve for future events.

This knowledge helps your children to trust their experience and be able to express themselves when boundaries are needed.

Tip #2: Break down what a good (and bad) friendship or relationship may look like

Empower your children with the knowledge of what a healthy and unhealthy friendship or relationship is. Get specific with your children about what someone who treats them well might say and do, and how your children would likely feel after spending time with them. Repeat this formula, speaking about someone who mistreats others.

With this information, your children will be able to identify much more readily when they are not being treated well and will reinforce that they are worth being treated with love and kindness. Children need to know this to feel worthy of setting boundaries for protection.

Tip #3: Talk with your kids about boundaries

Knowing what a boundary is and how it is so beneficial (throughout life!) can encourage your children to set healthy boundaries.

The dictionary definition for boundary is “a line that marks the limits of an area.” In terms of people, I define boundaries as “a spoken limit that clearly states what you find acceptable (or not) in the actions of another person towards you or others.”

Interpersonal boundaries are a superpower for having agency and control in your own life and experiences. They allow you to be your true self and for your friendships and relationships to be honest, clear, and mutually enjoyable. Also, the ability to set boundaries is linked with higher self-worth, self-love, self-respect, and assertiveness. What a gift to give our kids!

Tip #4: Model self-love and encourage it in your kids

Part of being able to set boundaries lies in believing you are worthy of having your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs heard. You and your kids are more likely to believe that if you value yourselves!

Celebrate yourself, your efforts, and your unique traits, and celebrate these in your children as well! Speak positively of yourself and your children, use language that encourages a growth mindset and the beauty of imperfection, and practice an attitude of gratitude—including about yourself and your children!

Tip #5: Model boundary-setting and empower your children to practice

We all know that our kids often mimic what they see us do, even more than what they hear us preach. Boundary-setting is no exception. If we want to encourage and empower our kids to set boundaries, they need to see us doing the same.

Encouraging our children to set boundaries also means accepting that they will set boundaries with us and other family members. Parents need to still have authority, but ideally, we need to weigh our children’s wants and needs when it comes to honoring their boundaries and encouraging them to use their voices.

Hi TFT community! I am Christina Furnival, a mom of two, a licensed psychotherapist, and a children’s book author. My social-emotional children’s book series Capable Kiddos supports kids and their adults to feel capable to handle whatever comes their way. The first book in the series is The Not-So-Friendly Friend -- How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships, which helps kids learn what friendship should look like, that they matter and have the right to speak up for themselves, and how to set boundaries.

I am here today to share with you five tips to teach your children how to set boundaries.

Tip #1: Foster your children’s social-emotional skills

This is a super foundational step that is beneficial whether you are looking to teach your children how to set boundaries or not! Social-emotional skills are the ability to understand and relate to yourself and others, and they are critical for self-control, emotional regulation, empathy, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and healthy relationships.

To help your children recognize, identify, label, and express their feelings, parents can take age-specific approaches. When children are young, parents can narrate or “sportscast” what they see their child doing and what they guess their child is feeling to support the development of emotional language.

As children grow and gain practice expressing themselves and interacting with others, parents can engage in reflective dialogues where they process with their children in a moment of calm following an incident. This helps children unify their experience with what objectively happened and problem-solve for future events.

This knowledge helps your children to trust their experience and be able to express themselves when boundaries are needed.

Tip #2: Break down what a good (and bad) friendship or relationship may look like

Empower your children with the knowledge of what a healthy and unhealthy friendship or relationship is. Get specific with your children about what someone who treats them well might say and do, and how your children would likely feel after spending time with them. Repeat this formula, speaking about someone who mistreats others.

With this information, your children will be able to identify much more readily when they are not being treated well and will reinforce that they are worth being treated with love and kindness. Children need to know this to feel worthy of setting boundaries for protection.

Tip #3: Talk with your kids about boundaries

Knowing what a boundary is and how it is so beneficial (throughout life!) can encourage your children to set healthy boundaries.

The dictionary definition for boundary is “a line that marks the limits of an area.” In terms of people, I define boundaries as “a spoken limit that clearly states what you find acceptable (or not) in the actions of another person towards you or others.”

Interpersonal boundaries are a superpower for having agency and control in your own life and experiences. They allow you to be your true self and for your friendships and relationships to be honest, clear, and mutually enjoyable. Also, the ability to set boundaries is linked with higher self-worth, self-love, self-respect, and assertiveness. What a gift to give our kids!

Tip #4: Model self-love and encourage it in your kids

Part of being able to set boundaries lies in believing you are worthy of having your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs heard. You and your kids are more likely to believe that if you value yourselves!

Celebrate yourself, your efforts, and your unique traits, and celebrate these in your children as well! Speak positively of yourself and your children, use language that encourages a growth mindset and the beauty of imperfection, and practice an attitude of gratitude—including about yourself and your children!

Tip #5: Model boundary-setting and empower your children to practice

We all know that our kids often mimic what they see us do, even more than what they hear us preach. Boundary-setting is no exception. If we want to encourage and empower our kids to set boundaries, they need to see us doing the same.

Encouraging our children to set boundaries also means accepting that they will set boundaries with us and other family members. Parents need to still have authority, but ideally, we need to weigh our children’s wants and needs when it comes to honoring their boundaries and encouraging them to use their voices.

Hi TFT community! I am Christina Furnival, a mom of two, a licensed psychotherapist, and a children’s book author. My social-emotional children’s book series Capable Kiddos supports kids and their adults to feel capable to handle whatever comes their way. The first book in the series is The Not-So-Friendly Friend -- How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Friendships, which helps kids learn what friendship should look like, that they matter and have the right to speak up for themselves, and how to set boundaries.

I am here today to share with you five tips to teach your children how to set boundaries.

Tip #1: Foster your children’s social-emotional skills

This is a super foundational step that is beneficial whether you are looking to teach your children how to set boundaries or not! Social-emotional skills are the ability to understand and relate to yourself and others, and they are critical for self-control, emotional regulation, empathy, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and healthy relationships.

To help your children recognize, identify, label, and express their feelings, parents can take age-specific approaches. When children are young, parents can narrate or “sportscast” what they see their child doing and what they guess their child is feeling to support the development of emotional language.

As children grow and gain practice expressing themselves and interacting with others, parents can engage in reflective dialogues where they process with their children in a moment of calm following an incident. This helps children unify their experience with what objectively happened and problem-solve for future events.

This knowledge helps your children to trust their experience and be able to express themselves when boundaries are needed.

Tip #2: Break down what a good (and bad) friendship or relationship may look like

Empower your children with the knowledge of what a healthy and unhealthy friendship or relationship is. Get specific with your children about what someone who treats them well might say and do, and how your children would likely feel after spending time with them. Repeat this formula, speaking about someone who mistreats others.

With this information, your children will be able to identify much more readily when they are not being treated well and will reinforce that they are worth being treated with love and kindness. Children need to know this to feel worthy of setting boundaries for protection.

Tip #3: Talk with your kids about boundaries

Knowing what a boundary is and how it is so beneficial (throughout life!) can encourage your children to set healthy boundaries.

The dictionary definition for boundary is “a line that marks the limits of an area.” In terms of people, I define boundaries as “a spoken limit that clearly states what you find acceptable (or not) in the actions of another person towards you or others.”

Interpersonal boundaries are a superpower for having agency and control in your own life and experiences. They allow you to be your true self and for your friendships and relationships to be honest, clear, and mutually enjoyable. Also, the ability to set boundaries is linked with higher self-worth, self-love, self-respect, and assertiveness. What a gift to give our kids!

Tip #4: Model self-love and encourage it in your kids

Part of being able to set boundaries lies in believing you are worthy of having your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs heard. You and your kids are more likely to believe that if you value yourselves!

Celebrate yourself, your efforts, and your unique traits, and celebrate these in your children as well! Speak positively of yourself and your children, use language that encourages a growth mindset and the beauty of imperfection, and practice an attitude of gratitude—including about yourself and your children!

Tip #5: Model boundary-setting and empower your children to practice

We all know that our kids often mimic what they see us do, even more than what they hear us preach. Boundary-setting is no exception. If we want to encourage and empower our kids to set boundaries, they need to see us doing the same.

Encouraging our children to set boundaries also means accepting that they will set boundaries with us and other family members. Parents need to still have authority, but ideally, we need to weigh our children’s wants and needs when it comes to honoring their boundaries and encouraging them to use their voices.

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