Tag Archives: children

Setting Boundaries at Home

Setting Boundaries at Home

Written by: Jennifer VanEtten

By establishing healthy boundaries in your home, you are letting your children know that you care about them and want them to feel safe and secure as they learn about the world. Boundaries help children to understand their choices, which choices are acceptable, and how to identify and communicate their expectations with others. 

What are Boundaries?
Physical boundaries refer to the invisible line between you and other individuals. A physical boundary represents the extent to which you are comfortable with other people touching you, being in your personal space, and how you define privacy. For children, this may also include how far they can travel from a parent without supervision, where they are allowed to play, and activities they may or may not do in the house.

Emotional boundaries are not as straightforward as physical boundaries. Emotional boundaries are the expectations set to respect emotions and feelings. Setting emotional boundaries requires acknowledgment that everyone has different emotional triggers. We have to learn our own emotional triggers and respect those of others. For example, a child may decide they no longer want to be called by a nickname. When they make this preference known, family and friends need to respect that emotional boundary by not using the nickname in the future. Children need practice with following boundaries. This practice teaches them self-control and empathy, and shows them that they can set boundaries when they are needed.

Tips for Practicing Boundaries at Home

• Collaboration: Work together to establish boundaries within the home. Make sure each parent and child verbalizes their own age-appropriate physical and emotional boundaries. Allowing children to be a part of this process will help them to acknowledge how they want to be treated and how to treat others. It may be helpful to create a contract or chart that everyone can sign. Some universal boundaries include: ask before taking, wait your turn to speak, knock before entering, tell the truth, clean up after your messes, etc. 

• Consistency: Children will always push boundaries because it helps them to learn. That is why it is important to be consistent with the boundaries you set at home. Children are less likely to continue pushing boundaries if they are enforced consistently. If there is a time when a boundary needs to be broken, make sure to communicate this with your children. Otherwise, it is important to firmly, and gracefully, remind your children about the boundaries when they are broken, and use consequences if necessary. Remind them why the boundary is important and problem-solve if necessary. 

• Mindful Communication: Be conscious of your body language, facial expression, and tone when enforcing your boundaries. If you laugh or smile when a child crosses an established boundary this may encourage them to do it again (even if you are telling them not to do it). On the other hand, harsh reprimands and loud tones may trigger a child’s fight-or-flight response. You will want to save this urgency for emergencies (e.g., your child is in danger) and be sure to nurture your connection with your child in these moments while they learn. 

• Reinforcement: Offer praise when you notice your child respecting boundaries. Research has found that using critical statements may be counterproductive for shaping behavior, while praise can boost kids’ feelings of confidence and competence. Try using specific language when praising. For example, “I really like the way you cleaned up your toys without being asked!” communicates the behavior you want to reinforce rather than general praise like, “Good job!” 

• Model your boundaries: If you expect children to know and respect your boundaries, it is important that you do the same. If there is a physical boundary in the house that one should knock before entering a closed door, you should do the same for them. If no phones are allowed at the dinner table, hold yourself and your partner to the same standards. Additionally, discontinuing tickling or hugging when a child says “no” or “stop” reinforces physical boundaries. Children learn a lot by watching what you do, which often makes more of an impression than what you say.

A household with healthy boundaries provides children with love, structure, guidance and discipline, and at the same time respect the child’s feelings, opinions, personal space, and right to say no in certain situations. When proper boundaries are set at home, children learn and internalize the ability to set those boundaries for themselves as they mature. 

Tips for Practicing Boundaries at Home
American Academy of Pediatrics: Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children
Harvard Graduate School of Education: Consent at Every Age
Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook



Getting Active at Home

Getting Active at Home

Written by: Jennifer VanEtten

With holiday goodies in the past and 2021 resolutions in full swing, you may be searching for new ways to increase your kid’s activity level! While a sunny summer and warm autumn allowed for easy access to outdoor activities during the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, the damp winter weather may feel like a barrier. But with a bit of creativity, enthusiasm, and lots of free online videos, apps, and tutorials, kids can break out in sweat and giggles in no time!

The CDC recommends that children age 3-5 should get at least 3 hours of active play per day while children ages 6-17 should engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. While these guidelines may seem a bit daunting, even a short intense movements and long durations of small movements add up! 

Everyday Movement Around the Home (all ages)
Have any old balloons at home? If no, you can find them at any dollar store! An ongoing game of “don’t let the balloon touch the ground” can be a family favorite and easy entertainment for younger kiddos. During dull moments, pick up the balloon and start tapping it around!
Turn chores and everyday tasks into a race. Whoever can clean their room the fastest gets to pick a movie to watch later. Record the time it takes to get dressed in the morning, can your child beat their own record? Making these daily tasks a fun competition can increase time efficiency and heart rate!
Has binge watching Netflix become a new hobby? Turn the time between shows into an activity break! Some fun activities during this time could be a race to the other side of the home, a quick game of tag, or partner sit-ups and jumping jacks!

Sworkit Kid Workouts (options for all ages)
Sworkit is a fitness app for adults that recently released free workouts, warm-ups, strength training, and wiggle-eliminating video tutorials for all ages! Their content is accessible through the app store and free online.

Cosmic Kids Yoga (ages 3-6)
This YouTube channel provides a fantastical adventure through various themes of yoga instruction. They offer a range of 2 to 30 minute videos exploring various poses, mantras, and fun yoga practices that will have kids feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

NFL Play 60″ 
This app, created by The American Heart Association, is a fun way for young football fans to engage in a game that gives points for physical activity! Children have to get up and move to get their players in the game and train them for action.

Learn How to Dance (ages 12-17)
Your kids may be seeing all of the latest dance moves on Tik Tok and Fortnite– with these tutorials from Bao, they can learn them! In his clips, Bao breaks down various dance moves and teaches them in easy-to-follow tutorials on Youtube, Tik Tok, and Instagram. 

When planning activites and setting expectations for exercise, it is important to remember that children will model what they see. If caregivers make exercise a fun activity that is a part of their everyday routine, kids are more likely to pick up on these habits. The benefits of exercising and prioritizing movement with children include an endless list of improved health outcomes for the entire family!



Talking with Children About Current Events

Talking with Children About Current Events

Written by: Emalise Mitchell 

Right now, children and youth have ongoing exposure to emotional national news, COVID-19 information, and acts of racial injustice and unrest. Even if children are not actively engaged with the news, they pick up information through adult conversations and background television and radio. Stressful current events are abundant.

What are some tips for talking about the news and current events?
Avoid the temptation to downplay.
As caregivers, we are often tempted to downplay seriousness when children are exposed to traumatic news. This is often because we want to protect children from worry and burden. However, caregivers can share simplified and honest information with children. Doing this helps your child to make sense of what they see and hear.

Reinforce safety
When children hear about chaotic current events, their first response is to think about whether they are safe, even if the event is not happening near to them. In times like these, remind your child that you will always protect them.

Stick to the facts
As much as possible, stay neutral when presenting the facts about what is happening in the news or in your community. It is best to focus on the facts of a situation rather than opinions and myths. Check in regularly with your child to get a sense of what they already know and their exposure to the situation.

Be open and available for questions
A caregiver’s willingness and readiness to listen sends a very powerful message to children of any age. As best as you can, listen to their questions and concerns without minimizing them. If you don’t know the answer to a question that your child asks, it is okay to let them know that you don’t know and you will find an answer for them.

Model desired behaviors
Adult attitudes, beliefs, and actions affect children. It is very important to help your child identify their range of emotions and responses, as well as how to express them in appropriate ways. When you talk to your child, you can show positive ways of emotional expression, problem solving, and using words to describe your feelings.

How can I support my child’s sense of safety?
Limit news exposure
Decide how much news is appropriate for your child and set clear expectations in your household.

Provide a reliable routine
Whenever possible, keep predictable routines and structure in your child’s day. Consistency helps your child to have a sense of safety and predictability.

Encourage discussion
Male sure there is enough time for serious conversations about emotions. Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Allow them to ask questions and remind them of the facts – not perceptions – throughout your conversations. For example, if your child asks “Why did those bad guys hurt the good people?” you can respond with, “The people used violence to hurt other people because they did not like them or agree with them. Hurting others is never the right choice.”

Additional Resources
More resources for caregivers
• KidsHealth: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/news.html
• ConnectSafely: https://www.connectsafely.org/fakenews/
• CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
• Healthy Children: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Talking-To-Children-About-Tragedies-and-Other-News-Events.aspx
• Scholastic: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/how-to-explain-scary-news-to-kids.html
• SAMHSA: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma12-4732.pdf

Children’s Books
“The Breaking News” by Sarah Lynne Reul
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“I Can Write the World” by Joshunda Sanders
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“On the News: Our First Talk About Tragedy” by Dr. Jillian Roberts
YouTube has a Read-Aloud option available here