Why Is It Necessary for Teens to Set Emotional Boundaries?

Why Is It Necessary for Teens to Set Emotional Boundaries?
By Ahmad Amirali

Being emotional is necessary for kids, especially for their personality grooming (Previous Article: Why Is Being Emotional Necessary for Our Children Better Future?). However, it is also essential for teens to maintain some emotional boundaries as they are entering the practical phase of their lives. Every year one of the parent’s most severe concerns consist of their child’s sensitive behaviour towards their social, religious or academic circle. Parents concerns make perfect sense to me because, being an adult, they themselves finding it difficult setting their own emotional boundaries and therefore they consider being emotional is kind of a weakness which is not true.  Let’s get through it with an example; you living in a big house with your family and a huge barn with a horse stable.  Every morning you wake to witness this remarkable peaceful site where everyone, human and animal, loves each other. However, the whole area where you are living has no fence in it or a ‘boundary’ that mark your territory. What would be the repercussions of not having a fence? Yes, the security of loved ones, kids, wife, parents, animals and the beautiful, peaceful life will be on stake because its ‘open to anyone who wants to come’. Now put your teen’s emotions in place of this remarkable site and repeat the situation and you will find ‘having fences’ will come handy. The solution is ‘having fences’ not to get rid of this peaceful site and to shift somewhere else. So, the question is what is an emotional fence or a boundary and how we can manage to put it in our life?

What is an Emotional Boundary?

According to Psychology today writer Dr Marilyn Price, an emotional boundary is a limit we establish to protect ourselves from being hurt, manipulated, or used by others. It is an expression of self-worth that helps people understand who we are, what we think, and how we feel. Boundaries create needed emotional space between us and others.

Healthy emotional boundaries are essential to healthy relationships. It means we know and understand our limits and these limits are clearly and honestly communicated.

Why is it essential for Teenagers?

Setting personal boundaries involves taking specific actions to change your relationship with important people in your life. Boundary setting can be oppressive to learn during adolescence because it is a time of identity formation. If young people allow peers, family members, or other adults to make them feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, disrespected, or unworthy, it is time to teach them how to set boundaries that will help them feel better about themselves and more confident of who they are.

If you hold regular family meetings, these can provide excellent opportunities to talk about emotional boundaries and practice communicating them to each other in a safe space. Learning to use “I message” is a habit that makes family meetings successful and is also critical to boundary setting.  (Source: Psychology Today)

What are Healthy Emotional Boundaries

  • Moving slowly into friendships to establish trust
  • Stating personal values despite what others believe
  • Respecting others, despite their differences
  • Respecting oneself, even though someone may not like you
  • Clearly communicating needs and wants, even though you may be rejected
  • Noticing when your personal boundaries feel invaded
  • Understanding that others cannot anticipate your needs

What are Un-Healthy Emotional Boundaries

  • Trusting no one, or everyone
  • Going against personal values to please others or to be liked
  • Giving as much as you can for the sake of being liked
  • Allowing friends to direct your life without questioning
  • Letting others define you
  • Falling apart or being a victim so others will take care of you
  • Believing that others can anticipate your needs

Tips for Parents

  1. Talk with your teenager about emotional boundaries.
  2. Teach teens to be responsible for their emotional reactions.
  3. Identify unacceptable actions and behaviours.
    1. Start with a simple family exercise that parents and children can do together:
      1. 1) Think of a friend or friends with whom you sometimes or often feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you experience them as uncaring, or you feel put down or manipulated by them. You don’t need to share the names of these people.
      2. 2) Each person lists five things you’d like your friend(s) to stop doing or saying to you or around you. When you have your lists, sit down together and brainstorm how an emotional boundary could be communicated for each item on the list.

There is a list of additional resources which can be helpful for as well as teens

How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 10 Examples + Worksheets, published by the Positive Psychology Program.

Why Healthy Relationships Always Have Boundaries & How to Set Boundaries in Yours, by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., published by PsychCentral

6 Subtle Signs Your Boundaries Are Being Broken, by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., published by PsychCentral

It is important to understand children’s behaviour as they are growing up and becoming mature. And parents role in it is significant. When parents model effective boundary-setting with children, children learn how to do the same.

Good Luck 😊

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