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Boundary Based discipline


Boundary-based discipline is a parenting philosophy that promotes within limits and with respect. It argues that children are capable of self-regulation, while promoting positive peer relationships, healthy growth, and development through teaching the why in addition to the what.

It’s important for parents to take care of themselves when raising children. Parents should remember to try to take time for themselves and do something fun without their kids—other than taking them out. They should also spend time alone or with other adults or friends without their kids in order to maintain healthy relationships with these people as well as continue improving their skills as parents.

What Is Boundary Based Discipline

Boundary-based discipline is one of the most common forms of parenting approaches used today. It rests on a set of assumptions about human nature. For instance, it assumes that children are born innocent and good but that they are also naturally self-centered and impulsive.

It also assumes that children desire to be accepted, loved, and competent in the eyes of others. Boundary-based discipline centers its efforts around these assumptions. It assumes that children are naturally self-centered and impulsive and that they desire to be accepted, loved, and competent in the eyes of others.

These assumptions are based on research findings from psychologists such as Albert Bandura, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and John Bowlby. Boundary-based discipline has been found to work best with young children who have had a good start with their relationship with their parents.

How Boundary-Based Discipline Improves a Child’s Life

When a child feels loved and accepted, he or she is more likely to behave in a loving and accepting manner. For instance, if children feel accepted and cared for, they are more likely to show respect for their parents and their possessions by treating others well and keeping them safe.

Children who have parents who provide for their needs and encourage independence are more likely to feel confident and able to explore and learn by themselves. When children feel confident and competent, they are more willing to take risks and be creative.

Children need to know why the rules were created in the first place.

If children know that if they misbehave, their parents will lovingly teach them the why behind the rules, they will be less likely to ignore the rules and push boundaries because of a feeling of resentment or a need to rebel.

Children need to know why the rules were created in the first place. For example, if a child is told that he can’t play video games before doing his homework, it’s important for a parent to explain that if he completes his homework first, then and only then will he get to spend time on his favorite activity.

The best way to do this is by telling the child what you expect from him and why you expect it so that he understands and knows exactly what you mean.

Maintaining clear boundaries is the key to successful discipline

Boundary-based discipline emphasizes the importance of boundaries in relationships, both between parent and child as well as between parent and child’s peers.
The Benefits of Boundary Based Discipline Boundary-based discipline is associated with positive effects on children as they grow up. For instance, children who were raised using boundary-based discipline are better at school and are more likely to be happy as adults.

Another benefit of using boundary-based discipline is that it results in stronger parent/child relationships and strong peer/peer relationships. Parents are more likely to teach their children “why” before simply telling them “what.” This promotes kids to develop critical thinking skills because they start to understand the consequences of their actions. The Benefits of Boundary Based Discipline for Parents Boundary-based discipline is an effective parenting approach because it promotes a positive relationship between parents and children.

Boundary-based discipline also serves as a way to strengthen your relationship with your child because it teaches children that their actions are the cause of decisions made by adults in their lives. Developing successful relationships with your child requires you to be consistent and fair. You have to let them know exactly what you expect from them, how you expect them to act, and why.

It’s important to keep your child interested in learning for the long-term and maintain healthy relationships with adults. Children who have less healthy relationships with their parents are more likely to feel frustrated and less likely to do well in school. They may also exhibit greater problems at school which may result in poor grades.

How to Implement Boundary Based Discipline

Now that you have a much better understanding of what boundary based discipline lets dive into how you can apply it in your home. Below you will find a list of steps that you should take to implement boundary based discipline in your home.

Step 1: Set clear and consistent boundaries that are consistent with your child’s age and developmental level.

Step 2: Assess the consequences of your child’s actions when using discipline.
Your goal is to make sure that they feel safe, supported, and respected when they do not follow the rules.

Step 3: Explain the rationale for the rules and make sure that your child understands why you are making them.

Step 4: Give children some options as to how they can correct their behavior. This way, it is less likely that they begin to resent you.

Step 5: Be prepared to discipline your child’s peers if they misbehave in your home or on a visit. Teach your child how you expect him or her to react if another child causes a problem.

Step 6: Remember that your child doesn’t have to be perfect, which means you don’t have to be perfect either. You are not perfect so it is important that you admit when you are wrong and try to fix it.

Step 7: Never punish your child because of a bad day at work or as punishment for something else. Punishing your child for something that has nothing to do with actions can lead to bitterness.

Be patient and stay consistent with your child

Step 8: Be patient and stay consistent with your child. For a child to learn they have to understand that their behavior has consequences. If you feel mad or upset, it is important that you are able to keep your emotions under control because if you are not calm then the child is not going to take your discipline seriously.

Step 9: Don’t expect too much from your child. If you do, your child is going to become frustrated and their progress in life is going to be delayed. It is important that you are able to accept your child as he or she is and not expect that they can walk and talk at the same time.

Step 10: Remember, the most effective discipline technique is one that works consistently with your values, beliefs, and family culture.

How to Handle Kids Who Violate Boundaries Over and Over Again

It can be very frustrating if you have a child or more than one that constantly keeps breaking the boundaries you have set. They may think it’s funny and they see no need to change their behavior.

Here are some strategies to help deal with this problem

Step 1: Talk with your child about why you are upset and not letting them go five minutes without you noticing.

Step 2: Be sure that what you are saying is reinforcing the reason why the boundaries were set in the first place. This will lessen your frustration and allow for learning from their mistake so your children know it doesn’t pay to keep breaking rules.

Step 3: Tell your child specifically what you do and do not want them to do. Write it down so that your child can be able to read the rules and understand them. Posting these rules will remind the children about the expectations that are set for them.

Step 4: Try to make sure that you are keeping your language positive when you talk with your children, even if they aren’t doing something right. It is important that they understand that you love them no matter what.

Step 5: Be sure to stop any bad behavior in its tracks. Let your child know that the boundaries have been crossed and that you will not let it happen again.

Listen to your children’s needs and take their perspective into consideration

Step 6: Listen to your children’s needs and take their perspective into consideration. Children who feel listened to are more likely to cooperate with their parent’s rules, but they are going to need some time so be consistent and reassuring in your discipline style.

Step 7: Make sure your children know that you are willing to help them with their problems if you need to and that sometimes you have to make tough decisions. If your child is having a problem with a friend or classmate, let them know that they can come to you before they get into any trouble.

Step 8: When your child knows that they are allowed to talk about things and ask for help, it will be easier for you to handle the situation as long as you are aware of what is going on.

Step 9: Be patient and let the child know that it will take time to change their behavior. If you are consistent about what you expect, eventually they will be able to follow through.

Step 10: Try not to be too hard on your child when they are doing something wrong because this can lead to resentment that will make them want to push the boundaries even further.

Step 11: Most children need a little help when it comes to following rules, especially their parents.

Motivate Your Child With Positive Reinforcement

There are a lot of different techniques you can use to motivate your child and encourage them to do well in life. Here are some examples:

Be your child’s champion by praising their positive behavior by using phrases such as “good job” and “I’m proud of you”. This will show them that they can achieve things that are worthwhile, which will help them to be able to live up to their potential.

Be a role model by showing them that you have good character and taking the time to be a positive influence to them. Be consistent with everything you do because this will make it easier for them to follow in your footsteps.

Be a good listener and give your child answers when they ask questions. It is also important that you ask them about their day at school, what they did over vacation, or how their family is doing. This will show that you care about how they are doing in life and you are paying attention to them.

Boundary-Setting Activities

There are some fun ways to help your child learn how to set boundaries and stick to them. Here are some examples:

Set up a safe play area in your home where your child can go and have fun when they are sad, angry, or afraid of something. Even if they cross the boundaries that you’ve set, it will help your child learn how to work through the problem.

Take time to listen and talk with your children about what is going on in their lives. You have to teach children how to talk about their feelings and what is going on with them when you are not around.

Let your child know that you respect their desires and feelings. Let them know that they are heard and you want to help if they need it.

Points To Ponder

  1. Your child’s behavior is not always within your control and sometimes they will have to learn their own lessons the hard way.
    It is important to understand that all children are different and that what may work for someone else won’t necessarily work for someone else.
  2. It’s important to practice what you preach when it comes to discipline and expectations.
    Children have a lot of respect toward you, so it is important that they know what boundaries you expect them to follow in situations as well as setting clear expectations for them.
  3. Children want to please; make sure you tell them how good they are at following through with what they need to do in a situation.
  4. Make sure you understand what your child is going through and why he or she may be struggling with certain things.
  5. Children have different levels of self-awareness, so sometimes it’s hard for them to know how they are acting in a situation until after the consequences have been given out.
  6. Every child has a different set of needs, so it’s important that you understand what your child is going through and what to do about it.
  7. It’s important for you to provide an example in your own behavior by setting clear expectations for yourself and following through with them.

Positive Attention – This will help your child to know that they are doing the right thing when they do something good. The more parents show their children that they are interested in what they are doing, the more their child will want to do good in such a way that they will get positive attention.

Make sure you have created an environment where your child is comfortable and safe. This means making sure that your child knows how to be responsible for him or herself and taking them out for play when they need it. Be consistent with everything you do because this will help them to learn how to follow through when things go wrong. When you and the family are together, make sure that you are listening to your children during the day.

Boundary Based Discipline: How do you apply it

Let us break down the 5 main steps on how to apply boundary-based discipline.

1:  Be very clear with your limits/boundaries.

When adults communicate with our children, they take things very literally. My daughter was going through the closet ‘exploring’. I called her name and said stop it, she replied “stop what daddy?”.

As mentioned earlier we don’t always communicate very clearly to our children what exact action we would like them to perform. 

The example I gave in relation to my daughter what I said and meant were not compatible. What I meant was to say stop making a mess inside the closet and I should have communicated that much better. 

Children always keep learning and are not aware of what is considered to be acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. This is where you as the parent or care come in to provide that guidance. Especially if you choose to implement boundary-based discipline it’s crucial that you communicate your boundaries very clearly upfront and repeat it if it’s necessary.   

2: Be consistent.

It’s important in life to be consistent to achieve any meaningful goal or change. This applies in this case as well, if you apply the boundary-based discipline method one day and don’t do it the next day, it will cause confusion in the children.  

When you apply consistency, this develops a clear routine and you build momentum. Children crave routine and consistency. It gives them a sense of security.

3: Make use of natural consequences. 

We have touched upon what ‘natural consequences’ in some detail above. To briefly cover it here. It’s allowing children to experience the consequence in a safe environment so they learn that the behaviour they are displaying is not a good one.

4: Always make sure you pick your battles wisely.

One thing you have really to keep in mind is boundary-based discipline is knowing when to pick your battles wisely. Ask yourself the questions, this a behaviour you must correct? Or is this an actually acceptable behaviour for a child? Sometimes we can overcorrect children’s behaviour, especially when we ourselves might be feeling more irritable than usual.

When you provide children choices what you really doing is transferring responsibility over to them for their behaviour. In return you need to trust the process.

A book I highly recommend and opened my eyes is ‘’Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster W. Cline M.D, and Jim Fay. They highly recommend the concept of natural consequences with older children.

One of the great points I took away from this book is that  Foster W. Cline M.D, and Jim Fay are really trying to convey the message when you let children deal with the consequence for their actions, what you grant them is an opportunity for them to learn to think for themselves and they can come to the conclusion that their behaviour is unacceptable  

5: Have high expectations of your child.

As a parent I firmly believe you should set high expectations for children so they can grow and become the best version of themself. There are many studies done when parents are assertive the children perform a lot better. 

However, what you need to keep in mind is to avoid becoming a ‘’helicopter’’ parent, as this will do more harm than good to your children. We need to set clear boundaries and communicate the possible consequences. Then step back and give them the room to grow and make mistakes so they can learn and adjust and improve. 

Boundary Based Discipline- Is It The Answer?

What is age appropriate behaviour

This is key. Depending on how many children you have you need to set the right expectation for each child that is appropriate to his or her age. 

You cannot not expect a 2-year-old to give you the same type of behaviour as a 5-year-old. Also, when you have children with an age gap you have to keep in mind that they will copy each other’s behaviours. At this point you will need to communicate to the elder one and set clear boundaries and if the break the boundaries implement the consequences you have set out.  

You will always have a child that will keep pushing your boundaries all the time to see what he or she can get away with. If you do not keep consistent with following through with the consequences you have set out, it will be less effective the next time you set boundaries. For example, your twelve-year-old comes home from playing out 20 minutes later then agreed, because yesterday they came home 10 minutes late and nothing happened.

At all times take the child age into account and at what development stage your child. So, you can apply boundaries based and natural consequences accordingly.  

Let’s briefly look at the other type’s of disciplines

There are some other types of disciplines, we will cover them briefly down here and will cover each discipline in more detials in separate articles.

Positive discipline

The way this method works is as follows, a parent or caregiver will first assess the situation, and then offer a reward for a desirable behavior, or provide an acceptable consequence for an undesirable behavior.

The following are examples.

Positive reinforcement: “If you choose to play nicely with your sister this evening, we will read your favorite book before bedtime”.

Negative reinforcement: “If you stop screaming in the middle of the supermarket, then I promise to buy you that ice cream cone”.

Click here for more information about postive discipline.

Behaviour modification

This method focuses on  establishing new behaviors by first identifying the negative consequences of a certain behaviour. It is then important to identify positive aspects of a different behaviour and how to make it more desirable, with the goal being eventually replace the old behavior with the new one.

An example of Behaviour modification for child would be; If a child was always misbehaving at school, they would get in trouble with the teachers and other students and bring down their overall grade.

The parent would then first identify the negative consequence of this behavior (getting into trouble), then try to figure out why it happens (it could be peer pressure, lack of motivation), then what positive behavior would make the child more successful (therefore giving them an incentive to follow through with this new behaviour without worrying about getting into trouble).

Gentle discipline

The most important goal parents want to achieve using this method is to develop an environment of mutual respect, empathy, and understanding in the home.

But the secret to successful gentle discipline is to use it as a last resort. Gentle discipline should be used only when your child violates rules that have been established before with love and support from you. No punishment can correct a situation that has not been previously corrected with gentle consequences.

Research shows physical punishment does not work in the long-term because it’s just not effective at teaching children how to behave well enough to avoid future punishments.  Example of gentle discipline is the use of a consequence to teach a child how to behave in the future.

A child perceives love and support from his parents, but when he crosses the line from “good” to “bad”, the parent then gently guides him back with appropriate discipline. Parents want their children to know that just because they are mad when they get punished doesn’t mean they don’t love them or that their mom or dad doesn’t care about them. Click here to find out more about gentle discipline!

Emotion coaching: The 5 step discipline process

This is a 5-step discipline process  that teaches children and adults how to manage their feelings.

Step 1: Identify your emotion.

Step 2: Label your emotion.

Step 3: Own your emotion.

Step 4: Understand what it means for others.

Step 5: Try to understand and empathize.

The purpose is to teach children (and adults) to learn to manage their emotions rather than get caught up in them.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who is Amy Morin and what is boundary based discipline?

Boundary-based discipline is a parenting philosophy that includes clear and consistent boundaries.

Boundaries are set and enforced consistently, with appropriate consequences for rule-breaking. With in-depth knowledge of the child’s personality, temperament, and strong points/weak point

Amy Morin is Psychotherapy, Mental Health, Psychology, Child Behavior, Discipline and Editor-in-Chief of Verywell mind

Is there such a thing as a disciplinary boundary ?

The short answer is no. There are no hard and fast rules between disciplines, which means that disciplinary boundaries can vary from one profession to the next.

However, there are some tendencies within each discipline that make it easier to cross disciplinary boundaries than others.

How does a parent use boundary based discipline?

Parenting is an art. It is rooted in your values, what you know to be true and how you want to teach your children.

As a parent, you have the responsibility of guiding your children on the right path in their lives and setting boundaries for their behaviors helps do just that.

How does positive discipline work in a family?

Positive discipline is the use of rewards and consequences to shape children’s behavior, often to help them develop self-control.

It is alternatively known as positive punishment, affirmative reward, or bribing children with candy.

Why setting boundaries is important?

Setting boundaries is important for a number of reasons, but one of the most vital is ensuring your mental and physical well-being. When you set boundaries, you’re making it clear to other people what you will and won’t stand for.

This is crucial in order to protect yourself from abuse or mistreatment in any form. It’s also a good way to cut off toxic relationships before they do more harm than good.

How do you explain boundaries to a child?

If you’re a parent, or just someone who has to deal with children, this might be an important question.

This is because in order to explain boundaries to a child, it’s important to understand what the child needs. For a young child, boundaries are just some rules that they need to follow without any explanation.

As they get older and learn more about the world around them (and you), your explanations will become better and better as you guide their understanding of what’s appropriate.

How do you discipline a child that won’t listen?

If your child is not listening to the things you say or do, there are steps you can take to encourage better behavior.

You have to think how children learn in order to get them on the right track. And keep in mind that changing any bad habits takes time and effort.

It is important for both parents and children to understand their responsibilities and make a commitment for change.

What happens when parents dont set boundaries?

When a child is born, they are 100% reliant on their parents to guide them through the world.

They need a set of rules–knowing what is and isn’t acceptable in certain situations and understanding the consequences if they step out of line.

It’s not always easy parenting, but it’s important that we establish boundaries early on. This keeps our kids from making mistakes and also helps them grow into happy, productive members of society.

Why setting boundaries is important?

Because boundary setting is a strategy that allows people to only have meaningful relationships with people who are important to them, and avoiding unnecessary connections.

By setting boundaries, you can maintain healthy relationships and reduce stress.
A lot of the time we don’t realize that we’re setting boundaries for ourselves in order to avoid future conflict because we’re too busy focusing on other things.

What happens if a child is disciplined too much?

When a child is disciplined too much, they can feel overly controlled and powerless.

They can start to feel resentful of their parents or caregiver, and may even rebel as an act of self-preservation.

Discipline should focus on teaching the child about appropriate behaviours and actively teach them how to make better decisions.


Children often need a little extra help when it comes to discipline. Boundary-based discipline is one way of helping children learn how to follow through with the necessary consequences that they may have received.

There is a difference between trying your best and giving up. With Boundary Based Discipline, children learn how to take responsibility for their actions and follow through with what has been set out for them so that there is positive accomplishment and recognition of feedback from parents or guardians.

This helps establish good behavior patterns which will ultimately lead into a more successful life as an adult!

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