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.