We’re not talking about my boundaries…those are in place, and doing fine. They are even tightening up a little this year as I cut back and cut out some things that have tended to stress me out.
We’re talking about boundaries for little kids… in particular, for little M.
Little M does not have great boundaries…
The words are there…if someone is teasing her or tickling her, and she doesn’t like it, she is clear in stating that she doesn’t want it, doesn’t like it, or even telling a person they can’t tickle her anymore, and to please stop. But her little face…her sweet little face has a giant smile, and that giant smile downplays the words that she means. She is saying stop, but when most people see the giant smile, they think she still wants to play. Eventually, she ends up very upset, and is sad (or angry). But she doesn’t understand that she should tell someone, yet. It seems that she accepts this “boundary busting” as normal, and even sometimes seems to expect it.
We have been working on her having a serious face when she is using her boundaries… what else should we be doing?
With other little kids, I can understand…they see a happy face, and don’t always hear the words, because they are in play mode. But adults…what to do about adults? I feel like adults…teachers, family, friends, even strangers, should know better. They should hear the word stop, and they should back off from any child saying those words. So what does a mother do and say? The mother bear in me wants to jump in, and handle it, but I also want to teach her to protect herself and not just rely on me.
I want my girl to be strong, confident, and have good boundaries. I want to teach her that when she says no, and means it, that people need to listen to her. And I want her to know that if they don’t, they are being “boundary busters,” and that is not ok. I don’t want her to expect people to not honor her boundaries, and assume that bigger people don’t have to stop when she tells them to, because I feel like that can lead to problems when she is older…
How do I teach her that she has the power over her body? Besides teaching her to have a serious face and “mean it” when she says stop, how do I teach her to expect people to listen to her?