Topic 4 How to Set Boundaries

Effective boundaries help create healthy relationships. However, it is critical that one understands how to create these boundaries so that they are not too extreme – either too loose or too overbearing. In addition, in order to maintain the boundaries created, one must be able to recognise when they are being broken and must be willing to address the issue.

Stage of Setting Boundary Description

Defining the boundary                                                                          

Think about what is the issue that your boundaries will settle, which are the appropriate consequences, for how long the boundary will last

Setting the boundary

This step is ideally done with negotiation between the child and caregiver so that they understand why the boundary is being set and what is expected from them. Agree the terms of the boundary, such as when it will start, when you will talk about it again, and the consequences of it being broken. Help the child find alternate activities they can do instead of what you want them to avoid doing

Keeping the boundary

Notice if the boundary is being kept, acknowledge when the boundary is kept or if it is broken, respond if it is broken by choosing how to react

Signs that Boundaries are Being Ignored

This requires everyone to follow the rule that everyone must do everything together and that everyone is to think, feel and act in the same way. No one is allowed to deviate from the family or group norms. Uniqueness, autonomy and idiosyncratic or unusual behaviors are viewed as deviations from the norm.

This involves you pulling in or over-controlling so that others, even yourself, never know how you are really feeling or what you are really thinking. The goal is to not be seen or heard so that your boundaries are not violated.

This occurs when neither you nor anyone else in the group/family/relationship is able to establish any fusion of emotions or affiliation of feelings. Everyone is totally independent from everyone else and there does not seem to be anything to hold you and them together in healthy union.

This is present when it seems to you that nothing you think, feel, or do is your own business. You are expected to report to others in your family or group all details and content of your feelings, reactions, opinions, relationships and dealings with the outside world. You begin to feel that nothing you experience can be kept in the privacy of your own domain. You begin to believe you do not have a private domain or your own space into which you can escape.


Due to the pandemic, your child is spending too much time inside the house and their main form of entertainment is their computer and the video games that they play online with their peers. Try setting a healthy boundary in a way that is clear to your child how much time they should spend online and what the consequences will be if this not followed.