A while back I read a post that said: **teenagers push our boundaries** **we must prepare to battle**
My own response was one of Yes, and No.
Yes, it's fair to say that teenagers will push our boundaries. They don't do this out of a desire to be battled, they do it because they are trying to discover their own boundaries. If our response is to wage war, or prepare to battle we teach them boundaries are not ok. We will create in them someone who is boundaryless, 😜or super rigid 🤐and nothing gets through. Like toddlers, teenagers want to explore, 🤗experiment and create new experiences. This is NORMAL!!
What society deems as a ‘good teenager’ is often an emotionally shut down, withdrawn people pleaser in the making. 🤪
Navigating boundaries doesn’t need war raging, it needs curiosity and compassion. 😊
How we respond to boundaries in our teens is how they will respond to boundaries in others. Many are taught to fight 😡or flee, 😳to control and manipulate to get their way, to ignore, trample over, and shut down other people’s rights to a boundary. Is this really what we want our children taking into the world 🌎?
When our boundaries are challenged there are a number of ways we can respond - closed and conditioned - not even noticing there is a boundary being crossed, responding automatically with our conditioning.
We can become controlling. 😡There could be crying, 😭which incidentally is often a form of control. And the one I see most often - confused. 🤪
Any of these are what I call breakdown moments. They are sometimes useful to create movement towards a breakthrough, so many people get stuck there, in control, despair or confusion and don’t know how to get out. They may dance between the three. When we do this with our teens they generally will feel shame about boundaries and will with become more of a good girl/people pleaser or go into more full-on rebellion.
When instead we can express our boundaries, and hear theirs, with compassion and curiosity. Exploring, naming and expressing them resourcefully our teens will still push back, they will still explore, it’s their job! But instead of feeling shame and guilt 🤢they will feel they matter😍, they are enough 🤩and they can handle it 😎when they encounter other boundary clashes in the world.
Let’s face it almost all conflicts are because of boundaries, often a lack of ability to express our own, hear and respect those of others.
This is not to say let your teen set all the boundaries. There are rules, guidelines and elements to respect. Communication is key.
Using words like: ⭐️because... ⭐️makes... ⭐️means... 🌟and then... to communicate our reasons helps our teens (or partners, younger children, & colleagues) understand our reasons for the boundaries.
Elevating conversations to ideas 💡 or purposes can also help, but I’ll leave that for another post.
A teen who is sulking, slamming doors, pouting, screaming, overly compliment or rebelling is on a journey to discover their boundaries.
How we choose to respond, based on how well we understand and are able to express our own boundaries will shape the way they deal with boundaries well into the future.
At times we’ll stuff up, we’ll overstep or ignore their boundary, and that creates an opportunity to demonstrate how we respond to mistakes... again something I could unpack in another post.
So many rabbit 🐰 holes.
For now, consider how clear you are on your boundaries, your reasons for them and your ability to express them clearly, especially when under pressure. It’s the greatest gift you can give yourself, your children, and other people you encounter day to day.