Book Club: Boundaries with Kids


Grab your coffee and have a seat, it's book club time! Today's book is Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives. Whew, that's a long title. 

I aimed to read a toddler-specific discipline book since we've had a rise in tantrums and misbehavior with Caleb turning two-years-old earlier this year. I heard "no" crop up as Caleb's favorite word, or he'd lie down on the floor like a fish out of water when things didn't go his way. Time for me to get serious about discipline. It's terrifying as a mom. You hear all the talk of those terrible twos. And now I hear it doesn't stop at two. Apparently, at three you get the threenager. Seriously? Next, I'll be four is the worst. When do we parents catch a break? ... Eh, don't answer that. 

Can you blame the poor kids? They just discovered their independence and want to experience, see, and control everything. And yet, they are limited in what they can do physically, emotionally, and mentally. They are still developing and need your guidance and support. How frustrating, huh?! I try to remind myself of all this when my little guy gets upset and starts heading down tantrum row. And this is also why I wanted a book with some expert advice and real-life tools to handle these emotional rollercoasters my son heads down.

I asked a friend who has three kids what they recommend for a discipline book. I think someone with three kids probably knows what they are doing, right? More than me for sure; they've had three times the practice! Anyway, they listed a few books, and I went with their suggestion of Boundaries with Kids

Review Time

Let me start by saying I am glad I read this book. However, I wouldn't necessarily call it a toddler-specific book. It's broader and is applicable for parents with kids of all ages - babies up to the teenage years. I think the concepts presented are great and something I agree with and want to apply with raising Caleb. However, I still feel the need to read a book about toddler discipline. But again, I digged this book and think it's a great one to read as a parent. Let's talk about it some more, shall we?

The table of contents actually gives you a good look at what concepts and ideas the book leads you through:

Before we go too much farther, I do want you to know that this is a Christian-based book that expresses ideas in a biblical manner. Don't let this fact scare you off, though. You can still read it and have much to gain from this book if you simply skim over the Biblical references. The book just sources verses that support their principles, which I think, faith-centered or not, are solid and wise. 

A few friends have asked me what the book was about, and my paraphrase goes something like this: 

It's about developing boundaries for your kids that will help them grow into responsible adults with strong moral character. The book promotes setting boundaries with your kids and ensuring that you enforce the boundaries. Kids need to learn the consequences of their choices and actions. We have to enforce these boundaries or else they do not mean anything, and the child will not learn these important principles of life. But when we enforce them, we do not need to be harsh and mean, but we need to be empathetic and supportive. We can say things like, "gosh, not getting ice cream is no fun; I wish I could eat ice cream all the time, too." We also need to set consequences to when boundaries are broken, and it's best if we can relate the consequence to the misbehavior. Overall, with boundaries and empathy, we teach our children responsibility and how to grow up into successful people.

There is much more to it all, but this is the general idea I took away from me with the book.

Another interesting topic brought up in the book is the idea that as parents, we often bring our past and insecurities into how we raise our kids. Perhaps we overidentify with our child's feelings or cannot say no due to fear of losing their love. If this is the case, the book suggests you evaluate yourself and seek help from adult friends and family. 

When I read parenting books, I tend to buy the actual book, so I can make highlights as I read. I find this helpful when I skip through the book later, but it also helps me to be engaged as I read. I tell you this because I want to share some of my highlights and some overview of concepts, so you get a better idea of the book. 

First Section: Why Kids Need Boundaries

The first section explains why kids need boundaries. It's all about the importance of helping your kid to learn to take responsibly. 

  • We parent in the present without thinking about the future. We usually deal with the problems at hand...But one goal of parenting is to keep an eye on the future. We are raising our children to be responsible adults.
  • A child needs to know where she begins, what she needs to take responsibility for, and what she does not need to take responsibility for. If she knows that the world requires her to take responsibility for her own personhood and life, then she can learn to live up to those requirements and get along well in life.
  • To take ownership of your life is ultimately to take control. Ownership is to truly possess your life and to know that you are accountable for your life--to God and others. 
  • Children can handle the known logical consequences of their mistakes, like a time-out, loss of TV privileges, or loss of a trip to the mall, much better than they can handle relational consequences likes anger, guilt, shame, condemnation, or abandonment. 
  • You need to interpret a child's behavior as a response to your own as well as in terms of his motives, needs, personality, and circumstances. 

Second Section: Ten Boundary Principles Kids Need to Know

This section gives you the principles to stand by in raising your kids. You need not to just teach boundaries, but be the boundary. There are consequences in life and they need to learn responsibility. As you see in the table of contents, the principles are:

  1. Law of Sowing and Reaping - Kids need reality consequences (loss of time/processions, etc) not relational consequences (anger, guilt, etc). Give your child freedom, allow choices, and then manage the consequences. Give praise when your kid uses these well and consequences when not. 
  2. Law of Responsibility - Kids need to know that their problems are their own, and no one else's -- this includes emotions, attitude, and behavior. 
  3. Law of Power - Kids need the ability to control something and learn the proper use of power (keep it age appropriate, though). And that they control themselves, not others. 
  4. Law of Respect - The world does not just belong to your child but is shared with others. They don't always get things their way, and they need to respect others.  
  5. Law of Motivation - Motives drive our behaviors, and kids need to learn appropriate and good motives. 
  6. Law of Evaluation - Kids need to learn to value and understand the pain of life rather than just avoid it. They need to learn to solve problems!
  7. Law of Proactivity - Kids need to learn to go beyond identifying problems to solve problems. Kids will learn such things as pausing rather than reacting, observe, and take the initiative. 
  8. Law of Envy - You help your kid transform envy into acceptance, gratitude, and contentment. 
  9. Law of Activity - Don't let your kids fall into passivity. They need to learn from failure, develop a sense of control, and avoid dangerous situations and relationships. 
  10. Law of Exposure - Learn direct communication and full disclosure...let's not talk behind people's back!

Final Section: Implementing Boundaries with Kids

This section gives some steps on how to implement boundaries. I'm going to provide you with the steps, but to truly know and understand them you should read the book!

  1. See the Three Realities
  2. Plug-In
  3. Grow in Boundaries Personally
  4. Evaluate and Plan
  5. Present the Plan
  6. Follow Through over Time

And there you have it.

My goal was to give you an idea of what this book is about so you can decide if it's right for you. Did I do my job? Do you want to read it now? 

Cough cough, now my next goal is to get my husband to read it, heehee.