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Helping Teenagers Set Healthy Relationship Boundaries

The best way for parents to teach teenagers boundaries is by modelling them in your own behaviour. Sometimes that isn't always easy in the heat of the moment when teenagers push your buttons or when you don't have a clear understanding on how to set boundaries. Todays blog shares some key ways to help teenagers learn boundaries which can help them navigate bullying, toxic relationships, new romantic situations or harmful encounters where they might be in danger. Personal boundaries are really important for having healthy relationships, they are the way to get your needs met and create reciprocal and meaningful relationships.

Teenagers often find themselves in new and challenging situations in friendships, social circles or dating where they might have to make decisions that either align with their values and needs or not. Although their gut might be telling them one thing sometimes it can be difficult for teens to realise this and act on it. In all honesty it's sometimes difficult for adults to do this and teenagers have way less experience to draw from and their sense of self is formative. Some of the work we do in holistic counselling is all about identifying values and strengths and what you desire from your friendships and relationships.

Boundaries are a personal thing and look different for everyone, they are protective and communicate what you're willing to accept and what you're not. Teens can set boundaries with friendships and people they are dating as well as with teachers, parents and other adults in their lives. Boundaries will help prevent teenagers from being taken advantage of, treated badly or bullied, hurt or coerced. They let people know who you are, how you wanted to be treated and what you value. Boundaries communicate how you feel and what you value in any given relationship dynamic.

Tips you can give your teenagers for setting boundaries are the following:
  • Understand how you feel about things that are happening in the relationship. If you find you're feeling hurt a lot and in tears this is likely to be an indicator you need better boundaries. Being in touch with your feelings is important for setting boundaries.

  • Trust your instinct and intuition. If that sensory impression in the pit of your stomach is telling you this situation is making you uneasy and feels wrong it probably is. It's important to listen to these gut feels and be true to who you are.

  • Check in on your beliefs to make sure they are not limiting you from setting boundaries. Internalised beliefs like "I'm not worth it", "I have no rights", "I don't care what happens", "my role is please others" can be the result of trauma and may need therapeutic intervention to understand how to navigate.

  • Identify behaviours that do not align with your values and boundaries and practice setting boundaries rather than accepting unhealthy behaviour.

  • Identify triggers that might cause an abrupt release of feelings, behaviour, thought or words that cause you to not see your boundaries clearly.

  • Transfer your personal boundaries into the digital world. Avoid engaging in behaviours online you wouldn't do in person and set boundaries with people online who violate your boundaries.

  • Have a go to phrase to enact your boundaries in the heat of the moment. Some examples might be "I need to some space from this right now", "I dont like the way you're treating me" "Can you please stop doing that" "Let me think about things and get back to you", "I think this is something an adult should help you with."

  • Learn relationship skills with a therapist or coach so you have more awareness around what boundaries look like in action.

  • Respect other peoples boundaries and practice it so you can have a good understanding of mutual relationships of respect.


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