By Nicky Vanvalkenburgh
Have you seen Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” Watching the movie recently caused me to think about boundaries, and how children desperately need them.
To recap the movie, Willy Wonka is a famous candy maker who opens his doors to the five lucky children who have found his Golden Tickets inside chocolate bars. When Charlie and the other children go inside the secluded factory, they see many amazing things. However, one by one, the children's bad behavior and personality flaws (caused by a lack of boundaries) gets them into trouble.
A boundary is nothing more than a limit. Boundaries force children to develop self-control, abide by rules, and conduct themselves in an orderly way. We tell our children not to touch the hot stovetop or electrical outlets. These are safety rules. We should also confront our children when they’re being rude, disrespectful, selfish, or angry—before things get out of hand. When there are no boundaries, children do whatever they want, whenever they please. It is a downward spiral, as “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory” shows.
In the movie, the children with winning tickets (except Charlie) were raised by permissive parents who didn’t have the heart to set boundaries. Veruca gets whatever she wants by yelling. Mike is addicted to TV, and his parents don’t have the guts to turn it off. Augustus is addicted to food, and has a double chin to prove it. Rounding up the bunch is Violet, who is cut-throat competitive about everything from karate-kicking to gum smacking,. Yes it’s fictional, but “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” a telling tale about the consequences of not setting boundaries for children
As a parent, it isn’t easy being the disciplinarian. It’s no fun constantly reprimanding our children. Yet this is exactly what is needed for our children to develop emotional hygiene. As a parent, you are in a position of authority. Take authority over your child’s temper tantrums, refusal to cooperate, eating too much junk food, and other misbehavior. Clearly explain what is appropriate and what isn’t. Set boundaries and enforce them.
Ultimately, boundaries make children feel safe. From a child’s perspective, life is unpredictable and sometimes overwhelming. When we set limits, children understand what is expected of them socially, emotionally and physically. When children are conditioned to behave properly, this behavior eventually becomes automatic and natural. In the long run, your discipline will pay off. Your children will learn what is expected of them and act accordingly.
The best time to start setting boundaries is when children are at least two, three or four years old. Your boundaries should include simple instructions about safety (such as “look both ways before you cross the street”) and guidelines for proper behavior. As toddlers, children can be taught to control their temper, not to throw things, to share their toys, take turns, and so forth.
All children yearn to feel safe. They want to know what’s expected of them. When we set boundaries, we enable our children to be happy, emotionally stable and well adjusted. Like Charlie in the movie, our children will have the best possible start in life when we set boundaries and enforce them.
About The Author
Nicky Vanvalkenburgh writes about practical coping strategies for empowered living. Check out her website at http://www.20minutestolessstress.com/.