• Ally Monarch

Parenting: Broken Boundaries and How to Respond

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Over the last several weeks I have discussed things in a more general sense with some reference to PCIT, or Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. In today’s post, I am going to reference more specifically to PCIT in regards to how to respond when boundaries are not respected by our children. There are so many different approaches that various professionals promote and it can be confusing as parents as to how to respond and we can get caught up with trying to implement bits and pieces from everything, desperate to find something that works. PCIT takes the guess work out of it and provides you with a structured road map to create a healthy relationship. First, let’s talk about broken boundaries.


When our children do not respect the rules or boundaries we implement in the home this can create frustration and chaos for both you and your little one. Broken boundaries occur when our child does not comply and attempts to either avoid the boundary all together or tries to barter and change the boundaries that you have set. Both result in a broken boundary. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and sometimes we may need to change our boundaries. Just as I discussed last week, boundaries need to be developmentally appropriate and we may need to alter them to be more obtainable. However, our kids are inquisitive beings and like to test the limits and exert some autonomy. This is extremely normal and healthy, but at the end of the day you are the parent and your rules should be followed.


So….what do we do when the rules are not followed? In reference to PCIT, research has concluded that for children 2-7 years old timeout is the best response to a broken boundary. Now, I know what many of you may be thinking, “I’ve tried timeout and it does not work for my child”. I am here to tell you that timeout requires a bit more structure and finesse than you may realize. The underlying purpose of timeout is to ignore the child and their inappropriate behavior. Children do not want to be ignored and as much as timeout appears to be a consequence, many of our little ones are still getting the attention they are looking for. Our kids do not always differentiate between positive and negative attention and negative attention can be easy to achieve at times. When timeout can become a less stimulating and attention giving experience, it can become significantly more effective.


Now, just ignoring our kiddos does not mean they will calmly sit and stay in their assigned spot. We may have some runaways and now we are chasing our little ones around the house trying to get them back in their timeout space. In PCIT we use a combination of a timeout chair and a timeout room to address the lack of compliance with staying in the chair. When mastered, this timeout dynamic can be so effective and portable!!


Now, I cannot give away all my secrets, but hopefully just enough to spark some questions and start the conversation. Plus, there’s no way I can fit all this information into one blog post! Secondly, PCIT works best in a live coaching set-up and guess what?...that is exactly what I am certified in, so let’s set up a session!


Next week I will delve into the importance of consistency and how that will set you and your little one up for success.


Please schedule a free consultation if you have further questions or schedule your first PCIT session with me today using this link.



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