Rules and Boundaries
Parenting skills are at their best when rules and boundaries are in place. Rules help govern one’s conduct and create predictability for the family system. Rules clarify what is expected of each family member. Boundaries undergird family rules by setting limitations, which protect the existing subsystems within the family structure. As the child learns to adhere to the established rules and respect the system’s boundaries, she is learning valuable life skills: patience, problem-solving, self-restraint, accountability, and inventiveness.
These skills will enable her to adapt and effectively address the demands and challenges of life, both present, and future. According to Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach (1996), research evidence validates the notion that the child’s ability to self-regulate her behavior and emotions predicts her later functioning in areas such as problem-solving, organizing, concentration, and metacognition, all of which contribute to strong learning ability.
In the first five years of a child’s life, he develops the functional skills needed for self-regulation (Blair & Diamond 2008; Galinsky, 2010); therefore, it is crucial the parent (or parents) models self-regulating skills through daily activities and routines. The child can internalize the manner in which he should conduct himself as he interacts with life. According to Florez (2011), children learn to regulate their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and emotions by observing the parent monitor himself. Parents who are consistent in executing family rules and setting boundaries in sync with appropriate social-emotional development strengthen the connection between the child’s home and school environment.
The activities and techniques introduced in this parenting curriculum provide opportunities for parents to understand the importance for boundaries and rules being consistently employed within their home environment.
The final core component of the RMC is the parent-child relationship. The relationship between the parent and child can be viewed as the physical representation of the multidimensional process of parenthood. This visual picture (parent-child relationship) is seen through the actions and the responses that occur between the parent and the child. The skills essential to the development of the child—emotional, social, cognitive, and moral—are constantly deposited into the child’s eye gate or ear gate. Both attachment theory and research concur that a positive parent-child relationship sets a solid foundation for the child’s future academic, social and emotional development. Therefore, it is crucial that parents receive and apply information that encourages the strengthening of the parent and child relationship (Appleyard & Berlin, 2007).
Parents who have warm, trusting, and dependable relationships that extend outside their home environment (i.e., community members, service providers, etc.) are more likely to have positive relationships with their child or children (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004; Wolff & Ijzendoorn, 1997). The combination of increased social support and less stress prompts the parent to interact more with her child and to be more sensitive (Ayoub, Vallotton, & Mastergeorge, 2011).
Parents should learn the developmental stages (human developmental timeline) of their child’s life to strategically utilize the specific parenting skills needed during each developmental phase. Each activity/technique presented throughout this curriculum is a two-generation based approach specifically designed to foster parent-child relationship and interaction. Also, the instructions contained in this curriculum challenge the parent to seek support services, which can reinforce the parenting skills learned.