This kindergarten student hugged everyone – all the time. If a repair man walked by our classroom door, she would run out of the room and tackle hug his knees (and other parts also often got smashed into because of her height or lack thereof). I had to reinforce the boundaries of my classroom – no running out the door – and also the boundaries of personal space. We ask people we know if we can hug them.
Boundaries are an important part of our mental, physical and emotional health. As teachers, we need good boundaries with ourselves, our students, our colleagues and administration. Our boundaries say what is and what is not allowed or okay in our lives. It is ok for a student to tell me I look like Peppermint Patty (I kind of do – see my picture on the website). It is not ok for a student to then call me Peppermint Patty all the time. My name is Ms. Yuill. It is ok to bring me peppermint patties – they are delicious!
As we grow, our boundaries change and this is important to acknowledge. It is also important to know that it is one thing to establish a boundary and another thing to enforce it. These can often be two very different battles. The essence of boundaries is the ability to say, “no”. Often, we need to give ourselves permission to say, “no” more often.