As parents, we want what’s best for our children and want to give them every opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, this can sometimes take the form of over-parenting and over-functioning for them, blurring the lines between boundaries and responsibilities.
While the idea of leaving your child to their own devices can seem scary, it benefits the entire family in the long run. The following are four ways to help your student set boundaries for the new school year!
1. Set clear expectations
Spend time before the school year starts setting clear expectations – as well as establishing the consequences. This gives your child the ability to take more responsibility and accountability for their actions without forcing parents to micromanage every homework assignment and project. An expectation of “Homework will be completed and turned in on time” could have a natural consequence of “If it isn’t, you have to work with your teacher on how to resubmit the work and earn back their trust.”
2. Help develop goals
Goals encourage students to work hard as they grow and progress. Work with your child to set measurable, achievable goals that they can actively work towards each week. Avoid setting goals that are too large or vague such as, “I want to get an A in Language Arts.” Instead, set goals like “I will complete my weekly reading log.” Parents can check in on their progress weekly and help them adjust as necessary.
3. Lead by example
The best way to help your child set boundaries is to set them yourself. If the rule is “no electronics at the table,” make sure parents are following the same rules. Another way to lead by example is by discussing goals for the week at the dinner table; not only does this establish accountability for the whole family, but it keeps students from feeling singled out.
4. Resist stepping in
When our children stumble, it is our natural reaction as parents to want to solve the problem for them. However, it’s important that they learn from their own mistakes, especially in low-stakes environments such as elementary and middle school. While your child may be uncomfortable or upset in the short term, not stepping in teaches them the tools to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.