How to Establish Boundaries and Manage Tantrums

This article is part of a video series with Sharon Rajan, a teacher at Montessori School, Bali. Sharon has over 3o years of experience teaching children 3-6 years in Montessori schools in the US and Canada.

Dr. Linnea: So how do you keep the right balance between setting boundaries and developing and fostering their independence?

Sharon: So this is a daily, daily thing you have work with and it depends on the situation, it depends on the child, it depends on the age, everything. And it’s going to change, the minute you figure it out, it’s going to change because they’re changing, right? So it’s a work in progress. You just have to try things every day and see what works. And always remind them that, “Yeah. You know, remember we had these discussions and this…do you remember when you used to do that? Can you imagine? And now you don’t do it anymore.” They feel good, right? So you’re helping them build on what they’ve got but you’re also pointing outlook where we were, and now look where you’ve come, right? They need to see the progress. And they need to see that it makes you feel better, and you can even say, “Well, that was such a better day because we were all happy. There was no friction.” Let them know. Let them know. You know, “When you do this all the time, it’s really hard for me and I don’t wanna be saying no all the time. But when you keep on doing this, I have to say no. Let’s try it a different way today. Let’s try to say yes this one time and let’s see what happens.” And then you build, right? Small steps.

Dr. Linnea: That’s a very interesting insight.

Sharon: It’s a tough thing and it’s very easy for me to sit here at 58 years old and tell you that it’s easy, but it’s not. And see, it’s much easier in this kind of environment because I’m not the parent, their emotions aren’t attached to me the same way they are to you. So when I say, “No,” right, my son calls it my teacher eyes, I can just look across the room and go like this and everything stops because they know, right, the boundary is set. So it’s setting the boundary that’s important.

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Written by Dr. Linnea Passaler

A surgeon and mom of a three, all currently under the age of five, Dr. Linnea is MamaDoctor's founder. She believes healthy virtual spaces where people can share their honest concerns and get help from knowledgeable, trustworthy sources, change lives for the better. She is an advocate for maternal mental health and wellbeing.