There’s one surprising reason kids are insecure and fortunately it’s something you can work on in no time. Family rules and boundaries matter.
The infamous playground story goes like this.
The school yard had built a nice fence to create a boundary between the playground and the road.
During PE and recess kids would play all over the place, many congregating near different areas of the fence.
A new strain of thought pervaded and, soon, they decided to take down the fence to give the children a sense of freedom. Instead of feeling walled in, they could feel free.
The result startled the school staff.
The kids liked the boundary
Instead of roaming wider and farther, as the space allowed, the students actually stayed closer to the school and were more crowded than before.
Because they didn’t know how far they could go. There was no longer a line. Their boundaries were no longer clear, but vague.
The bottom line is this…
Kids feel insecure when they are in full control.
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They may *seem* happy to make all their own decisions, but under that is the sense that their parents aren’t as in control as they need to be.
“Children raised without firm, consistent boundaries are insecure and world-weary.
Burdened with too many decisions and too much power, they miss out on the joyful freedom every child deserves.” Janet Lansbury
Children need firm consistent boundaries
The good news is this… none of us really want our kids to be in control. We want them to have age appropriate freedoms as they develop their self-control.
So, here are ways we contribute to insecurity in our kids
Here are some common ways our kids end up feeling insecure, and what we can do to turn that around.
⭐ We don’t give clear boundaries
Your kids need boundaries so they know what’s expected of them. Only then do they feel secure in their environment. No one really likes “All Of A Sudden” type of rules or, even worse, consequences.
Kids like knowing what is expected of them. And even better when it’s expected of everyone.
Why? Because children like limits
“Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings we will drive across it slowly and tentatively.
But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.” source
Our kids may occasionally roam around like wild and crazy animals – tempting us to buy them this leash – but that’s because children have a sense of security knowing we will tell them “too far is too far” or “enough is enough.”
⭐We don’t enforce boundaries then lose it All of a Sudden – Yo Yo Parenting
Hear my confession, friends.
At times, I am guilty of this.
I let a few of our “rules” fall by the wayside because I’m busy keeping the baby out of the trash can or trying to go to the bathroom alone.
A few days go by while I let small infractions go undisciplined and then, All of a Sudden, things have gone Too Far.
We waver between being permissive then overly strict
I get frustrated, yell, and bring down the house rules in full force, much to the dismay of my kids. They aren’t sure when or when they won’t experience consequences for their actions. In fact, they don’t know what mommy will do at any given moment.
We don’t want them tiptoeing around us because they don’t know when we are going to lose our heads.
⭐We let our kids do what they want, then get mad when they do
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Now, I am a big fat fan of Free Play.
I want my kids to roam around, get bored, think of creative games, and let their imagination run wild. In fact, I make a point to let them play instead of entertaining them.
However, that doesn’t mean the kids decide exactly when, where, and for how long they’ll do it each day.
There have been many studies showing that routine provides security, stability, and predictability for kids. It can be hard for us adults who are like “for Pete’s sake, can’t we just do whatever we feel like?“
When there’s a leadership vacuum at home, what often results is self-directed kids. These are children who become their own boss and resist your instructions because – well – you weren’t taking up the leadership role.
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⭐We aren’t consistent in meeting our children’s needs
Kids want to know we will meet their basic needs: food, sleep, and love. Okay, there are a lot more, but for small children, their whole lives focus on those things.
If they know when to expect food they don’t have to do magic tricks to get a cracker. They don’t have to cry and scream all night long from night terrors and overtiredness to get us to put them on a good sleeping routine.
Kids who are attached to their mothers and who regularly receive physical affection are, quite simply, more content. When we allow our children’s whims, moods, and momentary impulses to determine what we do, things start to get hairy.
⭐We give them too many choices
If we’re giving our kids multiple choices all day long they are getting Spoilt For Choice. Laugh it up, but this is a thing.
Even adults get decision fatigue, and it’s why those in high up positions wear the same clothes and eat the same breakfasts and lunch day in and day out. Because when we reach a certain point, our “decider” starts to malfunction.
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As decision fatigue worsens, we don’t give a rip and make poor decisions. As the day goes on our “decider” wears out, and children are no different. We can give them choices to let them assert their own independence and personal flair, but too many will backfire.
Kids seem to fight for control, yet what they want is some power, not control over their whole life.
Of course, kids will push the envelope when you create a boundary, but they want you to keep it to know you’re trustworthy.
Kids are learning to take charge of small things, don’t put them in charge of big things.