Setting boundaries with young children

Setting boundaries in education is very important. It provides structure, clarity and safety. Children who are rarely confronted with boundaries can be at great risk later in life. Setting boundaries seems so obvious, but this is not always easy. Young children in particular know no boundaries, after all they think they can handle the whole world. Children want to discover and try everything.

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What is the importance of setting boundaries?

Setting boundaries is about rules. How far can a child go in raising children and what do you think is important in a child’s norms and values? Children want to discover the world, it is part of their development. That is of course fine, but it is even more important for the educator to limit this and guide them in this. Setting boundaries provides stability and security.

The caregiver and child also know what they can expect from each other. The self-confidence of both is increased. If a child gets everything he wants, he would never learn to change the situation. They then do not grow into independent adults who know how to deal with setbacks. It also quickly becomes difficult for a child if he finds himself in a situation where he does not get his way.

The child must learn how to interact with others, you cannot avoid the fact that you must take others into account and show respect. The child often thinks very differently about this and goes against everything. Always keep in mind that you are doing this in the interests of the child. Every child does things that are not approved by their parents. A child would like to know whether the limit is real and will test you. Nowadays, some educators feel guilty if they don’t give children their way. We often have less time for our children and we compensate for this by staying up later or giving them their way more often.
If this happens often, the child may develop negative behavior and be dissatisfied more often.

Ways to set boundaries

say no

One of the ways to disapprove of the behavior is to say no. Make sure you make this clear and that you fully support this rule. No is no!

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If the child does something to get attention, it is sometimes best to ignore it. Usually after a while it becomes much less interesting for the child and he eventually knows that he will not achieve anything with this and will not get a response from you .

Set aside

Sometimes it works if you put the child aside for a while. It can then relax for a while and be removed from the situation. Provide a safe and quiet place. Five minutes is usually enough and use a timer if necessary.

To punish

Always first check whether punishment is necessary.
There are various punishments that you can use and sometimes it helps the child to understand the consequences of his behavior. For example: A time-out, abstinence or a correction.


By rewarding children, they learn to deal with boundaries in a positive way. This usually has much more effect and children learn this way what is and is not appreciated.

Tips for setting boundaries

Take the child’s development into account! Young children usually do not understand rules yet. Choose to solve situations together or demonstrate it well.

  • Be clear with a child and indicate why something is or is not allowed. It also gives you something to hold on to and makes you less likely to give in.
  • Set up a meaningful rule. The child should learn something from it. Also indicate why that rule is so important. Check whether the rule is also feasible.
  • Trade when the limit is reached or perhaps a little before. Be consistent in this and do not change your mind from one day to the next. Don’t argue about this.
  • Dare to switch to active trading. If you tell a child to turn off the TV and he doesn’t do it after two tries, turn it off yourself! Do what you say!
  • Don’t set too many rules. If the child always has to deal with many rules, he or she can become frustrated. There is not a golden rule for everything, so find a balance here.
  • Both parents draw a line. What isn’t allowed by mom is also not allowed by dad. If this is not the case, it only creates confusion and the child therefore knows very well who to contact to get it done.
  • Is the rule appropriate for the child’s development? You cannot ask too much of a toddler, but when they are older you should not restrict their development. Make sure the child understands the rule!
  • Set a good example yourself!
  • If the child does something on his own, give a compliment!
  • Remind your child of the rules. This can sometimes be forgotten.
  • Be patient, setting boundaries takes some time.


read more

  • Setting boundaries with teenagers