Dealing with pushback from your child when establishing boundaries


As a parent, you want what's best for your child. And sometimes that means setting boundaries. These boundaries help keep your child safe and teach them important life skills. But what do you do when your child pushes back against these boundaries? It can be frustrating and stressful, but there are ways to handle it. In this article, we'll explore some strategies for dealing with pushback from your child when establishing boundaries.

1. Understand why your child is pushing back.

It's important to understand that your child's pushback is not necessarily a sign of disobedience or disrespect. It could be a way for them to assert their independence or test the limits of your authority. It's also possible that they see the boundary as unfair or unnecessary. Whatever the reason, taking the time to understand why your child is pushing back can help you respond in a more productive way.

2. Be firm but flexible.

When establishing boundaries for your child, it's important to be both firm and flexible. Firmness lets your child know that you mean what you say and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Flexibility, on the other hand, lets your child know that you're willing to listen to their concerns and adjust the rules as needed. Finding the right balance of firmness and flexibility can be tricky, but it's essential for effective boundary-setting.

3. Communicate clearly and calmly.

Clear communication is key when it comes to setting boundaries. Make sure your child understands what the rule is, why it's in place, and what the consequences will be for breaking it. Use simple language and avoid getting angry or emotional. If your child feels like they can't communicate with you without getting yelled at, they'll be less likely to come to you with concerns or questions.

4. Encourage problem-solving.

Sometimes, your child may push back against a boundary because they don't understand why it's necessary or feasible. In these cases, it can be helpful to encourage problem-solving. Together, you can brainstorm ways to meet everyone's needs while still respecting the boundary. For example, if your child doesn't want to clean their room every day, you can work together to come up with a schedule that works for both of you.

5. Stay consistent.

Consistency is key when it comes to establishing boundaries. If you let your child break the rules once without consequence, they'll be more likely to do it again. On the other hand, if you enforce the rules consistently and fairly, your child will learn that the boundaries are non-negotiable. This will help prevent pushback over time.

6. Listen to your child's perspective.

As a parent, it's easy to feel like you know what's best for your child. But it's important to remember that your child has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. Take the time to listen to them and try to understand where they're coming from. This doesn't mean you have to agree with them, but it does mean you should validate their feelings and involve them in the boundary-setting process as much as possible.


Setting boundaries is an important part of parenting, but it's not always easy. When your child pushes back against the rules, it can be frustrating and stressful. But by understanding why your child is pushing back, being firm but flexible, communicating clearly and calmly, encouraging problem-solving, staying consistent, and listening to your child's perspective, you can establish boundaries that work for everyone involved. Remember, setting boundaries is about keeping your child safe and teaching them important life skills. It's a crucial part of helping them grow and thrive.