5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Toddler or Teen

5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries with Your Toddler or Teen


I’m sure you remember what it was like when you were a toddler or a teenager.  If not, I’m sure you heard the stories from your parents or loved ones about how you tested limits and boundaries to see how far you could push.  I remember being five years old when my mother told my sister and I to sit on the couch while she got us ice cream.  I decided it would be more fun to be a gymnast and jump on the couch.  Even though my mother told me if I kept jumping I would get hurt I pushed the limits and ended up falling and getting a concussion.  It was one of those moments I decided to see how far I could go.  That’s just one way I tested the limits as a child.  Sometimes as adults we set appropriate boundaries with our children no matter the age and sometimes they are actually setting their own boundaries with us.  Here are some suggestions for setting appropriate boundaries that could work with your toddler or your teenager;

  1. Understand what a boundary is – A boundary is a set of ground rules and self-identified limits that you set for yourself to help determine when others are acting in a way that you believe isn’t safe, allowable, or reasonable for you. It also allows you to determine how you can react/respond to the person when they overstep your boundaries.
  1. Know how to set an appropriate boundary – It’s important for boundaries to be clear, consistent, and age appropriate. Boundaries are an agreement you make with your child.  For example, you wouldn’t put a seventeen year old in time out just as you wouldn’t give a seven year old an eleven o’clock curfew.  Also, if you say there is going to be a consequence follow through.
  1. Sit with the uncomfortability of boundaries – When we fail to set appropriate boundaries from the beginning it can be uncomfortable when we start setting them. Boundaries are meant to reduce conflict and build trust.  Understand that those may both take time in the beginning because there will be some resistance.
  1. When in doubt, talk it out – Have open (age-appropriate) communication with your child. Having a conversation about the boundaries and limits you are setting and the consequences for overstepping is a critical part in setting boundaries.  Teens and toddlers are more likely to adapt to loving boundaries as opposed to harsh and critical.
  1. Respect your toddler or teens boundaries – Respect your toddler or teen’s boundaries – I think about when I was a kid or my nieces and nephews as I write this one. When they are told to give someone a hug or to kiss good-bye and they don’t want to it’s considered “rude”.  The reality is, if we are being honest, they could just be setting a boundary.  At that moment they don’t want someone invading their personal space.  Listen when they are telling you they can do it themselves.


Contact me today for a free consultation and to set up your first appointment.  I can be reached at 754.246.5730 or via email at stephaniemsavo@gmail.com.

selfStephanie Savo earned her Master’s Degree in Mental Health counseling from Nova Southeastern University.  She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with extensive experience working with children, adolescents and families providing individual, group and family therapy. Stephanie’s areas of interest include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, anger management, parent-adolescent dynamics, trauma and mood management.

In addition to providing therapeutic services Stephanie is a qualified supervisor providing supervision services to registered mental health interns who are working towards licensure.

Stephanie is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for individuals and families who are looking for self-empowerment and to strengthen relationships.  She works with her clients to identify their personal strengths and find self-inspired solutions to the problems they experience.

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