how to practice positive boundary setting?

Boundary setting is a topic that concerns the whole of society. All children need positive boundary setting . It is a necessary part of child rearing. It teaches children about what is right and wrong, but also about making decisions in relation to this. If they are unable to put it into practice, having the knowledge is of little help.

According to the Store Norske Leksikon , the definition reads as follows: “Limit setting is about helping children to relate to certain frameworks for what is acceptable behaviour .”

Here you can read more about what this entails. We also go into some detail about how it should be practiced for small children, slightly older children and young people, for example 16-year-olds. At this age, many people want to break away. Then it is extra important to emphasize this part of the upbringing. Read on to learn more.

What is boundary setting?

First and foremost, it is about guiding the children to understand for themselves how to make the right choices . The choices they make must be based on what they have learned about right and wrong. They must then put this into practice themselves. Positive boundary setting is both healthy and necessary for the child to receive a good upbringing.

Boundary setting can then be about the simple things in everyday life, such as having to do your homework before you can go out and play with your friends. But it is also about learning to show respect to your fellow human beings and to be polite .

An example could be if the child plays a team sport. As a rule, someone on the team is more or less good. Then it is important that everyone helps to encourage even those who are not the best players on the team. Here, children must be taught to show respect, even if not everyone has the same abilities.

Through leisure activities, school and at home, children are with many different adults in everyday life. It is therefore important that all adults who are part of the children’s lives take responsibility for contributing to positive boundary setting. This can be the parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, employees in kindergartens, schools or associations for leisure activities.

All adults have a responsibility to provide children with good upbringing.

Praise, recognition and boundary setting

In many cases, the children and young people may feel that you, as an adult, are strict when you set limits. It may not be easy for them to understand that the boundaries are necessary for themselves.

They most likely won’t understand that you set boundaries precisely because you love them. In many cases, it can be exhausting for both the child and yourself to constantly feel like you are correcting their behavior.

Therefore, it is wise to praise the children when they follow the boundaries that have been set. This also applies when they show particularly good behaviour. It can, for example, be towards their fellow human beings or if they have contributed with tasks in the home.

Then you show the children that you both see and hear them, but also that you have noticed that they have followed the lesson. This makes boundary setting easier because you underpin what is good behavior and encourage this to continue.

In such a learning process, recognition is important.

Recognition is not only important in relation to praising good behaviour. It is also particularly important in terms of children being recognized and valued for the person they are. Their identity and personality.

It is about giving the children enough attention and making them feel that they are good enough just the way they are . The boundary setting will then no longer feel like harsh criticism, which it is not intended to be either.


How to set boundaries?

It is not always easy to live up to what you say. Sometimes you may ask the children to do one thing, but then you catch yourself doing the opposite of what you have taught the children. Then it is important that you are also consistent with yourself.

Children may learn the most from what they see you do. There is, of course, a big difference between what adults and children are allowed to do, but it is important that you comply with the rules you set yourself as much as possible.

In order for the children to learn and understand, it is important that you:

  • Is clear and definite. You don’t hesitate or “talk around the porridge” when you explain the boundaries to the child.
  • Is consistent. This means that you follow the same rule in each case.
  • Sets a clear framework for what is expectedof the children. You are precise and explain carefully what you expect.


What is particularly important when you set limits is that the children understand the limits that are set and why they are there. If they do not, it will be difficult for them to comply with them. Therefore, it is wise to emphasize following the advice above on how to set boundaries. Then you will notice that the children are much more able to relate to the limits that are set.

In practical terms, there will be a difference between setting boundaries for a small child and, for example, a young person. These have different needs and bases for learning. Therefore, upbringing must always be adapted accordingly. Here we go a bit into setting limits for the various age levels.

Small children
For the very youngest, boundary setting is largely about what they are allowed to do and not do. Here it is important to teach them the basics. Repetitive messages will eventually stick. Then the child will eventually stop himself from doing what is not allowed. It is wise to keep the explanations simple.

School- aged
children School-aged children have a little more to contend with than the very youngest. Often it may be more tempting to play computer games, leisure activities or to be out with friends than, for example, to sit inside and do homework. It is then important that you set clear expectations for the child. Be clear about which priorities apply.

With teenagers again, there are even more temptations in everyday life. As a rule, they want to break away and become independent from the age of 16. Here, it is important to find a good balance in order to let go a little, but at the same time not let go completely at the limits. This is because young people also need boundaries and a safe framework.

Why is it important to set boundaries?

It is important that everyone learns about setting boundaries from early childhood. Positive boundaries give children security and predictability .

Having clear and distinct boundaries is a big part of showing care towards a child. Basically, that is precisely what boundary setting is all about, care and love. It is a way of showing your children love, because you as adults guide and teach them about life, which will benefit them later.

Setting boundaries shows the children that you are a safe adult they can lean on and trust.

It also helps them to understand what is expected of them, so that they can exercise good behaviour. At the same time, they learn respect towards you, but also towards other adults who set boundaries, and not least all other fellow human beings.

This will largely help them to grow up to become good citizens . This means that they can make a positive contribution to society in the future. At the same time, they are prepared for what awaits them later in life. This could be, for example, during studies or work. Through setting boundaries, children learn to stand on their own two feet, make their own choices and become independent.

Seek help

If you have difficulties with setting boundaries, it would be wise to seek help. We can help you with child-rearing and ensure that the children learn respect and good behaviour. With us, the whole family can be part of the family therapy, or we can talk directly to the young person.

We adapt the treatment to each individual case. This is to meet you as best as possible in your everyday life and in response to your needs . We want to make the therapy as comfortable and manageable as possible. Therefore, we can come to your home if you wish. Or we can also talk via video call.

It is important to maintain the good family relationship. With positive boundary setting, as well as learning good communication skills and respect for each other, you can create security and trust. This will in turn lead to the relationship between you and your children being strengthened and maintained. Contact us today for help with boundary setting and parenting.