149: How to set the boundaries you need

We’ve covered the topic of boundaries before, in our conversation with Xavier Dagba.  In my work with parents, I see that an inability to set boundaries is a MAJOR cause of feeling triggered by our child’s behavior.  


When we snap at our child’s behavior, it often (not always, but often) comes somewhat later in the day.  


There’s a reason for that: it’s because we haven’t been able to set boundaries early in the day, so each time our child crosses where a boundary should have been, we get more and more irritated.  Then finally we can’t take it any more – and after one last not-boundary crossing, we snap.


(If you snap early in the day, I’d ask you to consider what boundaries were crossed for you the day (or many days) before, and whether you’re still feeling the effects of that?)


So we’ve discussed this before, and yet…boundaries continue to be a struggle for almost all of the parents I meet.  Why is this?


We’ll get into that in this episode, which draws on Nedra Tawwab’s book Set Boundaries, Find Peace, and goes beyond it too.  Nedra outlines nine reasons why we find setting boundaries so difficult, and I argue that’s because all nine are rooted in patriarchal ways of being in relationships.  


When we’ve been conditioned for decades that our role as women is not to seem rude or mean, to keep the peace at all costs, to make sure everyone else’s needs are taken care of before our own, and to have our power in a relationship come from taking care of others, is it any wonder that we go out into the world and have no idea how to even know we need a boundary, never mind how to set one?


And secondly I argue that while we might need more boundaries between us and the people we love, that we have WAY TOO MANY boundaries between us and the people in our broader communities.  That’s one big reason why we feel so stressed out all the time – because it seems like we are the only person that can meet our child’s every need, and that we have to do it all alone.  I believe that by breaking these boundaries down we can make life a whole lot easier for ourselves by reducing the number of things we need to do (meal swap, anyone?), and by creating connection that helps us to feel nourished and whole.


If you’re struggling with knowing how to identify and set boundaries, I’d like to invite you to join my Taming Your Triggers workshop.  


We’ll help you to identify your needs so you can work with your child to get these met and meet your child’s needs as well (and even though this might seem impossible right now, it actually is possible to meet both of your needs the vast majority of the time!).  


And on the relatively few times when it isn’t possible to meet both of your needs, you can set a boundary instead (which is different from a limit!).  When you do this consistently, you can be more regulated more of the time, which means you won’t snap at your child as often as you do now.


Taming Your Triggers is now open for enrollment

I’ve given you a lot of information in this episode about how to set boundaries.  And for some parents that may be enough: you may be immediately able to apply this information in your real life with your real child.  


But for many more parents, information isn’t enough.  You already have a lot of information about how you want to show up in your relationship with your child (stay calm; don’t overreact; be empathetic…), but you haven’t been able to put it into action yet.  


That’s because it isn’t just information that you’re lacking; it’s because you haven’t yet made what I call a non-cognitive shift.


A non-cognitive shift is when you (often quite suddenly) take on information in a new way, in your body, not just in your brain.  When it happens, something suddenly seems different than it did before.  Without logically convincing yourself of anything; without having to try to remember to do things differently, suddenly things just are different.  


You’re no longer lost for words.


You’re no longer reciting a script.


The right words, the right things to do, just show up.


I’ve given you information on what to do.  If you still can’t do it, that’s not your fault – even though our culture teaches us that knowledge + willpower = change, so if you have the knowledge and you haven’t made change then clearly your willpower is lacking.


Non-cognitive shifts are more likely to happen when you’re learning in community with others, as you see that you aren’t alone, and others ask questions you never even knew you had, and their insights create new insights for you.


If you know you want to show up differently for your child but you don’t know how (or you know how and you still can’t do it!), the Taming Your Triggers workshop will help.

Over 10 weeks you’ll learn the real sources of your triggered feelings and how to feel triggered WAY less often by your child’s behavior.  I’ll give you information, but our amazing community of parents will help you to make the kinds of non-cognitive shifts you need to actually make these changes stick.  Registration is open NOW until Wednesday February 23rd, and we’ll start together as a group on Monday February 28th.  Click the image below to learn more and sign up!



About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Leave a Comment