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When we discuss boundaries, we often think of our own or the boundaries of other adults, while overlooking the boundaries of children. However, no matter how small they may be children have boundaries that should be acknowledged.

We treat children differently in many regards, and for good reason (in most cases) because their brains aren’t fully developed and they need our help. But, there is a difference between treating your child differently in a way that is beneficial and treating them differently in a way that might be detrimental to them.

During our child’s earliest years, it is so important for us to help them establish their boundaries and to respect the healthy boundaries they have. Later in life, if this is done, they are far more able to establish boundaries with their partners and friends.

Because children don’t come with guidebooks, sometimes we do things that are unintentionally harmful to them. And the more knowledge we have, the better able we are to raise them.

Here are 9 ways parents unintentionally violate their children’s boundaries.

1. Helicopter parenting.

Helicopter parenting is when a parent is constantly hovering over their child, never allowing them space or empowerment over any aspect of their lives or themselves. Oftentimes, when parents are constantly hovering over their children, they are correcting their every move and preventing them from doing anything independently. Not only is this an invasion of their boundaries – studies have shown this parenting style leads to anxious children who grow into anxious adults.

2. Shaming them for having emotions.

When your child is going through a difficult moment, they can become overwhelmed. And while it may not seem like a big deal to us- it feels like a big deal to them. The worst thing you can do when your child is crying is called them a baby or say something condescending or shame them in any way for a negative display of emotion.

3. Speaking negatively about their other parent.

Another overstep that parents often make is to speak ill of the other parent. Examples of this can be a parent that is divorcing another who constantly makes remarks about the other parent. However, even couples that are still together can do this without thinking much of it. Regardless – children love both parents, and they don’t need to be brought into whatever problems are between the two of you.

4. Requiring physical affection from your child.

It’s nice to get hugs from your child and give them hugs- but affection should not be a requirement. Sometimes, they simply won’t feel like hugging you, and that is okay. What is not okay is to shame them for having this boundary.

5. Forcing them to do something uncomfortable or scary to them.

When I was growing up, I had friends who had parents who forced them to join softball, baseball, or football teams, even after the child had already participated in said activities and decided it wasn’t for them. Rather than respecting their boundary – their parents would continue to force them into things they had no interest in. Other examples of this include when your child is scared of a new experience – perhaps they don’t want to ride a ride at the theme park, but you continue to try to push them to do it. This is a major invasion of boundaries.

6. Discussing your private life with them.

There is a fine line between adult talk and child talk- and the going on of a parent’s personal life is adult talk. Children don’t need to know about their parent’s love life or sex life, or squabbles between their parents and their friends.

7. Saying harsh words about yourself in front of them.

Your child loves you – the last thing they want to hear is you calling yourself dumb, fat, stupid, or lazy. When you do this, you are invading their boundaries. They don’t want to or need to hear this.

8. Sharing their personal business.

And when your child is going through something personal – keep it to yourself! Much like ourselves, our children feel embarrassed about things and don’t want to be gossiped about. Respect that.

9. Public shaming.

It’s one thing to discipline your child behind closed doors. However, there is no need to announce your child’s behavior to the world by shaming them.