Teaching children about their personal boundaries and the boundaries of others can help them understand when an individual's behaviour may be inappropriate or dangerous. Children with well-defined boundaries tend to establish a strong sense of self, and understand how they deserve to be treated by others. By educating children on the importance of boundaries, parents can ensure their child remains safe, while respecting the personal space of others. Activities that help teach boundaries to children require parents to stress the concepts of personal space and respect for others.
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- 6-foot rope
Establish respectful patterns in your daily interactions with others. Children learn by watching how their parents act around other people. By setting a good example for your child about healthy boundaries, the more likely they will develop strong boundary skills.
Help your child identify what personal items belong to them, and what belongs to others, by engaging them in activities that teach them the concept of ownership. Ask your child to identify something that he believes belongs to him, then identify to him something that belongs to you. Ask your child if you may borrow his item, and that he may borrow your item if he asks in return. This activity will teach your child to ask before taking something, and to respect items that belong to others.
Demonstrate knocking on bathroom and bedroom doors to your child, and asking permission before entering. By stressing the importance of being able to dress or use the bathroom privately, your child will begin to understand his right to personal space. Asking your child for permission before entering when he is using the bathroom or in his bedroom will help teach your child that their body belongs to them.
Spin your child around in a circle with his arms extended, and tell him this area encompasses his personal space, then do the same activity yourself to show the child your own personal space. Take a step back with your arms down, then ask your child to walk toward you until he thinks he has reached the edge of your personal space. When your child stops, extend your arms and spin slowly to see if he stopped within your personal space boundary. If your arm bumps the child, have him try again until he understands where your personal space begins.
Use a rope or cable to form a small circle big enough for your child to sit in. Explain that his personal space is smaller for people like mom and dad, but bigger for friends, teachers, and strangers. Expand the circle an appropriate distance when talking about friends, expand it even further when talking about teachers, and then expand the circle as wide as possible when talking your child's personal space and strangers.
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