Educational Insights 5.5.2014
Educational Insights 5.5.2014
Posted on 05/05/2014

          Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent”, maintains that a parent’s job is to equip kids with coping skills to self-advocate. Experts suggest that many parents often were not taught how to set boundaries and struggle with setting them for their children. She shared several strategies on how parents can help their kids set boundaries:

          Get clear on your own boundaries.

          Work on setting effective boundaries with your kids. This affects their behavior and conveys the right way to create their own boundaries. For instance, if a father sets boundaries harshly-he screams and even uses physical tactics-then that child is likely to behave harshly or aggressively with other kids.

          Help them honor themselves.

          Parents reflect out loud to their kids about what feels and doesn’t feel comfortable. If you have a shy child, avoid ‘rubbing it in’ or pressuring them to talk to others, which will embarrass them and may shame the child. Try using an empathetic tone to reassure them they are the kind of person who likes to take time and warm up to someone before they feel comfortable. This helps your child define a boundary and to figure out what works best for them and to honor that.

          Talk about it.

          Teach your kids about what it means to be a good friend and how to deal with exclusion or bullying. “If kids say, ‘you can’t play with us,’ teach your kids to say ‘you’re not being a good friend.’” Help them to understand that kids who reject others aren’t nice and playing with mean kids is not much fun anyway.


          Play ‘what-if’ scenarios. Ask your kids what they might say in situations that require them to self-advocate. Teach them to use their words, not their hands. Providing them with several key phrases, that do not blame, judge, or criticize, can be helpful. By positioning yourself as a mediator, you help kids learn how to maintain their boundaries and peacefully resolve conflict.

          Our children tend to mirror what they see in the adults they spend time with. When parents and teachers can align themselves in the important mission of teaching our children to ‘self-advocate’ in respectful and peaceful ways, we are creating a kinder and happier world.

Conflict is inevitable in our lives. However, the manner in which we cope and respond to conflicts can make all the difference! By going directly to the source, gathering the facts, remaining calm and respectful, adults model appropriate conflict-resolution skills and stay within the boundaries of a responsible society. By working together, we set a positive example for our youth!


-Dr. Paula Sissel

Garden County Schools

Superintendent/Elementary Principal