Boundaries in healthy relationships are just like boundaries on a sports field or a court. It’s like setting a line that you don’t want someone to cross in the way they treat you. Boundaries work both ways and need to be respected by both parties. The saying “treat others how you would like to the treated” is an example of setting boundaries. In a relationship, a boundary might be telling someone it is not ok to be treated in a certain way and may sound like “you are being too rough” or “I don’t like it when you shout at me like that”.
As Dads you can guide your children in setting their boundaries and be a good role model by showing them how you respect their boundaries.
Helping your children to be firm about their boundaries and what is acceptable to them early on, will help them to do this in the future when the risk factors might be higher and you may not be there with them.
- Talk to your children about personal space and body boundaries. What is okay and what is not.
- Teach your child how to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and other ways to communicate when they have had enough, don’t want to do something or want to stop something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Teach your child to also respect the boundaries that others set.
- Teach your child about consent. For younger children – Asking if it is okay to give someone a hug. For older children explaining that they have the right to decide what they are/aren’t okay with regarding personal space and physical touch
- Teach them to trust their feelings. If it doesn’t feel right to them, they should say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and tell you about it as soon as they can.
- Try some ‘What if…?’ Scenarios. ‘What if someone gives you a big hug and you don’t like it?’ ‘What if someone is hurting you when you are playing?’
(For older children include conversations about inappropriate behaviours, such as adults or older kids making inappropriate comments, asking them to keep secrets, taking or showing them pictures of a sexual nature).