Teaching tweens how to set boundaries

boundaries (2)
It is human nature to avoid pain, including emotional pain, whether it is ours or someone else’s. So we need to help our children navigate the fear and guilt that may come with learning to set boundaries.

This morning my daughter wanted to have a ‘strategy meeting’ regarding how to deal with a boy that, according to his friends, ‘liked’ her. It should be said from the outset that these feelings were not mutual, and her friends had been sure to make this clear to this poor boy. My daughter is sensitive and was feeling uncomfortable, not only about the unwanted attention but also about how to address the issue and this boy.

Many of us, when unexpectedly placed in a situation where it is difficult to say ‘no’, will agree to something that is to our own detriment. Most of us have had the experience of agreeing to help out or be there for others when we don’t have the time, energy or resources ourselves.

Saying NO can be awkward and uncomfortable and this makes it difficult for tweens to set boundaries.

When we do things out of guilt or obligation – please others even when it contradicts what’s best for us or avoid expressing our thoughts and feelings when someone upsets us, we are succumbing to fear. We may fear rejection, so we say yes and abide by what we feel is expected of us. We may fear confrontation, so we go along with things just to make it easier. We may also feel guilt as a result of saying ‘no’ or hurting someone’s feelings.

So how do we explain to our children not only WHY it is important to prioritise our own well-being but also HOW?

Learning to set boundaries are key skills in creating healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships. If we can teach our  children to first recognise and then proritise their own well-being we are teaching them self-worth. When our children can recognise and accept what they truly desire, they no longer have to look for approval outside of themselves, which gives them the freedom to be who they really are.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval.”

– Brené Brown

My daughter and I talked about how to sit with having hurt someone’s feelings. It was important for her to be able to see that though her honesty meant this boy was disappointed she wasn’t in fact being rude. She was being truthful and sometimes often even for adults this can take a lot of courage. Our obligation to others is to be respectful, however we are not responsible for the other person’s response. We are only responsible for ourselves.

And with that we skipped off to school together discussing homework  and how to get it finished on time.

If you would like to learn more about taking brave steps in your own life, or perhaps you have a tween that you feel would benefit from learning more about resilience, I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment.One workshop is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage. The other workshop is for tweens and parents/caregivers and addresses Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.

Bookings open shortly but places are limited, so if you are interested in being notified early jump over here to register.

Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.



A lesson in being brave

big yes

Some time ago now I took a personal pledge to say YES to more things in my life.

YES to opportunities, YES to invitations and YES to all sorts of offers that came my way. I felt that this would be a gentle, effortless way of introducing more joy and spontaneity back into my life.  This small move was just the beginning, and I had no idea what was in front of me when I set out.

My Say YES project was not prompted by a craving for more excitement in my life. It was my planned route out of stress and mounting anxiety. The long stretches of busyness that I can indulge in causes the kind of stress that eventually takes its toll on a sensitive soul. There had been many a morning where my waking moments were met with a host of ‘must-do’, ‘must-change’, ‘must-stop’ directions. I would wake with my internal self-talk at full volume and it would shake me awake.

Perhaps you have recognised  with your own version of internal roadblocks. Self – doubt or fear can prevent us from moving forward, taking action and making decisions.  It surfaces as the overly critical self-talk behind procrastination, not feeling deserving or qualified enough, avoidance tactics and more. It comes in many flavours and all manner of disguises.

Whilst other parts of my life were in check I knew that what was missing was gentleness and space. I needed to lighten the load and add back more time for play and nurturing.

So rather than having to go out actively seeking anything I chose the more passive route of waiting for opportunities to find me. All I then had to do was say YES and jump.

What I discovered was that saying YES actually took lots of courage.

Sometimes it’s much more comfortable to say NO (to others as well as ourselves) –

  • not today
  • I think I’ll stay home thanks
  • I would rather not deal with that right now
  • I can manage just fine on my own
  • it’s lovely, but I couldn’t
  • sorry but I don’t have time for that
  • I’m not sure that’s my thing

I was struck by how challenging it really was and I didn’t realise that I was learning a profound lesson. I was rediscovering ways of feeding my soul –  warm baths, time with friends, art making, connected conversations, a big wide world, fun, vulnerability and imperfection. I listened, and let them into my days and into my life. I invited them in whenever they were on offer, by saying YES.

Being brave has opened so many wonderful doors for me and it can for you too. It has taught me so much about living a rich and joyful life .

Perhaps you feel that you too could benefit from taking some courageous steps but don’t know where to start.

Shortly I will be setting out on my Playground Add-Venture where we will be visiting courage and bravery, and I would be honoured to have you join me.

DATE: Saturday February 22nd

TIME: 1 – 5pm (ish)

WHERE: Sprout Studios – 123 Auburn Rd. Hawthorn VIC

COST: $70 (includes yoga session, all art materials and delicious, nutritious refreshments – of course)

Taking steps toward change requires courage, and the first step can be the most challenging. Say YES, jump on board and make this today’s commitment to being brave and creating a better life.

For further enquiries get in touch on 0414 441 824 or thelivewellplayground@bigpond.com

I hope to see you there.