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  • Writer's pictureAlley Dezenhouse Kelner

Restriction and Binging - Boundaries in Parenting

When we rely on overt control tactics to enforce boundaries the pendulum often swings too far in other direction--we seek balance and the result is extremely unbalanced. When a behavior is punished harshly in one context it is likely to increase in other (less controlled) contexts.

Let's unpack this!

🍬CANDY! Kids who were raised with tons of food "rules" like: no candy, only kale--are likely to binge on candy when they go to a setting without restrictions.

👯‍♀️CLOTHES! A teen who gets scolded for wearing short skirts at home, visits their friend's house and wears nothing but short skirts.

I hear you say--but ALLEY surely my kids need some boundaries, and surely I need to teach them "right" from "wrong".

I hear you. 😅

The end-game is teaching our kids how to manage impulse and choice making (my brain wants another cookie, but how does my tummy feel?), how to weigh the variables (I really want to wear a crop top, but it's winter and it might be impractical) and how to make decisions that align with THEIR values (I want to keep ALL the markers for myself and not share, but is this kind? I want to climb to the highest monkey bar, but is this safe?).

As you navigate this, I encourage parents to ask themselves about their own values too--ask yourself: "What message does it send my kid if I restrict this? What does that say about my values?"

"What message does it send my kid if I don't restrict this? What does that say about my values?"

My daughter's teacher asks her class (several times a day), "Is it kind? Is it safe?"

These are the values we ought to be instilling in our kids (assuming you agree with them) and are an excellent place to start when asking your kids to weigh the variables and make informed choices without forcing their hand.

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