Saying No: Hold Boundaries with Your Kids


I have two girls, age six and age eight. Last weekend my child, who is six, wanted to go on a sleepover at a friend’s house, and our family’s rule is no sleepovers until she is eight. When I reminded her of the family rule of no sleepovers until you are eight, she got super upset, crying and protesting that it isn’t fair that her older sister gets to go on a sleepover, and she can’t.  I lost it. Please help?


You aren’t alone, and so many parents struggle with being triggered when their kids are dysregulated. I include myself here when my grandkids become dysregulated.  

When our child triggers us, we can pause and take a few deep breaths. Remind yourself that everyone’s feelings are their own. We do not make people feel a certain way, and nobody else can put feelings inside our bodies. You can feel good about a healthy boundary even when your child or another person is upset by that boundary.  

Your child is allowed to have all their feelings, and your job as the parent is to be a steadfast parent who parents with connection, empathy, and validation while letting your child express their big feelings.  

Lastly, when we lose it with our kids, there is always time to go back and repair. Go to your daughter and say, “I’ve been thinking about the other day when I yelled at you for getting upset that you couldn’t go on a sleepover.” I remember when I was about your age and (add your own story) my older brother got to go fun places, and I couldn’t go because I wasn’t old enough. I would get angry, also. That felt scary when I yelled at you, and I shouldn’t have yelled at you. It isn’t your fault that I yelled, and I am working on staying calm.