TIP of the WEEK: Teaching Boundary Skills

Learning and respecting appropriate boundaries is the cornerstone to making and maintaining friendships and becoming a functioning member of society. Unfortunately this is an area where many of our kids struggle immensely. Here are some ways to help your child learn how to improve their boundary skills.
1. Role play. Act out with your child both good and bad interactions. It may also be useful to video tape your role play so your child can see first hand what is acceptable and what is not. As is the case with so many unwanted behaviors, they simply may not know how they are coming across to others.

2. Be consistent. If they are close talkers then teach arms length personal space and redirect them every time they step too close. This behavior will only keep presenting itself unless it is corrected every time it happens.

3. Don’t be tolerant of any sexualized behavior. We know that undressing during moments of high anxiety is a behavior that is not uncommon and we also know that the intention is not to be sexually threatening however, this behavior will cause enormous problems later in life. A 5 year old stripping in public is manageable, a 25 year old is not and will likely bring legal action. This behavior should be met with zero tolerance for their own sake. This is also true for masturbating anywhere other than their own room or bathroom.

4. Learning empathy. The majority of our kids have great empathy for others. Their level of empathy can be compromised if there is personal gain involved. The best way to teach empathy is by showing it yourself. It is crucial that your child never hears or feels that you are excusing their behavior because of the syndrome. Likewise do not allow your child to hear you blame someone else for their misbehavior. Their actions are their responsibility and we teach the necessary skills from there.

Even though our kids struggle with standing too close, repetitive question asking, over attaching to certain people, and sometimes disrobing it does not mean that these are life long behaviors. They are often a result of either heightened anxiety or simply not knowing that it is not appropriate. These skills can be learned and should be taught from a very early age.

Submitted by:
Patrice Carroll

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