Personal boundaries provide safety and protection when you enforce them. However, some people don’t know how to set boundaries or how to recognize them. Playing games about boundaries helps identify common boundaries and why they exist. Game participants may learn more about their own boundaries and how to enforce them. They can also identify logical consequences of boundary violation and how to recognize and respect the boundaries of others.
"I See Boundaries"
"I See Boundaries" helps young children understand the concept of boundaries and how they promote safety. Look around your environment and identify things that are boundaries. For example, a door or wall forms the boundary between rooms or the boundary between indoors and outdoors. The lines on a road define where cars belong and how multiple cars can safely travel on the same road. Ask children to explain the reason for fences, house walls and other common boundaries. Compare these boundaries to personal boundaries, such as not touching without permission, social etiquette rules and other invisible boundaries.
"Name the Rules"
Social and personal rules form boundaries that help children learn how to function in society. Rules such as not hugging or kissing someone who makes you uncomfortable or not keeping secrets from parents protect kids from abuse and peer pressure. Have kids list the rules that protect them, such as not giving out personal information on the Internet or not putting anything in their mouth you didn’t give them. Award points for each rule listed. Ask them what other rules they think might make them safer. Discuss the reason they believe these rules are good. Award points for any additions everyone agrees to. Use the points to spend on something fun. Play this game with children ages 5 to 10.
"Stop and Go"
Give each child a hula hoop and have the child stand in the yard or in a large room with the hula hoop around him. Use large name tags that identify you as stranger, friend, family member or teacher. Move toward the child and have him use the words "stop" or "go" to tell you when you have reached his personal boundary. Change the name tags during the game to give him the opportunity to tell someone to move out of his boundary space. After the game, talk about any questions you have about his choice of boundaries. This game works well with participants ages 5 and up.
Breaking a rule has consequences, such as getting grounded for sneaking out at night. Use your set of house, school or work rules to list the consequences of breaking each rule. Use a game sheet to match the consequences to the rule. Allow participants to create more logical consequences for broken rules. Compare consequences in violent video games to real-world consequences. Discuss the appropriateness of responses, such as shooting someone you don’t like or beating them up. Apply logical consequences to those situations and responses.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.