So, let’s break it down a bit. How can we respect the boundaries of a child? …especially when many of the kids we help don’t know the concept of boundaries? To answer these questions, consider what a boundary is. I like to define boundaries as a place where I stop and you start. Even though we are the leaders in the relationship with a child, they are still separate and distinct individuals with the need to be protected physically, emotionally and spiritually. That means the responsibility of protecting their boundaries, even if they are unaware of them, involves ensuring their physical, emotional and spiritual safety. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, if I’m walking with a child whose shoe is untied, I might say, “Hey Buddy, I don’t want you to trip and get hurt. Let’s stop for a second so you can tie your shoe.” In doing so, I’m letting them know that I’m watching out for their physical safety. I could just say, “Let’s stop. You need to tie your shoe.” However, in the previous example, the child is explicitly reminded of what I want for them – their physical safety. The latter way conveys what I want from them – the action of them tying their shoe.
This is a simple example, but when we work to build these types of things in with kids their sense of safety is increased. This provides them the reassurance that I am looking to guard them and their feeling of needing to excessively guard themselves melts away. It lays a solid groundwork for the child to be vulnerable, knowing they are safe. In future emails, we’ll discuss more ways to protect the child’s boundaries. In the meantime, a simple guide is to focus on using my power for the child rather than using my power over them and making sure to communicate that to them so they understand my heart behind my action.