About the Author

Sarah Mae has a past that would be her present if it weren’t for Jesus. A blogger, author, and co-author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, she’s currently writing The Complicated Heart, a book for broken-hearted lovers of Jesus. Learn more at @thecomplicatedheart on Instagram or...

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  1. Sarah Mae,
    I can relate to being very ticklish. I’d laugh and squirm and people got a big charge out of causing me to go into a laughing fit. The only problem was that I wasn’t laughing with pleasure…it was torture. When I’d tell people…including adults, to stop, they wouldn’t stop. I remember well that helpless feeling. I don’t ever want to make my child, my family member, my friend feel like that. I wholeheartedly agree that by respecting our children’s boundaries and coaching their siblings to also respect those boundaries, teaches our children that we treat others the way that we want to be treated. Poignant post in this day and age…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • I think sometimes you can tell if a child likes to be tickled but says stop. Sometimes when I’m playing with my kids and tickling them and they’re saying “Stop” and giggling, I stop and say, “Are we okay? We’re good?” And they say yes so I know I can keep tickling. Sometimes just a quick check is all it takes.

      Love always seeing you here Bev, you’re such a faithful reader and commenter! 🙂

  2. Amen, thank you for this devotional. My girls are 21, 16 and 12, and I am learning daily to respect their boundaries. Thank you once again

  3. Thank you, Sarah Mae. I appreciated this very much! My husband and I try to respect our three-year-old daughter’s yes and no. What’s difficult sometimes is getting other people to do so and not guilt her when she doesn’t want to hug or kiss or talk. I want to pluck up my courage and lovingly and graciously remind them about respecting her as a person, not overpowering and imprinting guilt on her because she’s a child.

  4. Yes! I think this is SO important! I don’t have kids of my own yet but I worked in childcare for about 11 years. One thing I can tell you for sure is that children NEED to be respected. They knew that when they said “no” or didn’t want to play one of the silly games at outside time, they didn’t have to. They knew that when they voiced their opinion, it was listened to and respected…and in turn they knew that when I, as the teacher, voice my opinion or gave direction it should listened to and respected. Sometimes we treat kids like they are dumb or incapable, like we must make all their choices for them. I believe that if we give them the confidence and courage and respect to create their own ideas and opinions we will create wonderfully independent, strong, and respectful humans. They learn at such a young age! I love that you instill this in your kiddos! Blessings to you!

  5. This is a wonderful read reminding me of times, as as a child, I wished others would have respected my tickle boundaries. It seems like a basic concept to me, therefore I think everyone should automatically get how important it is to respect the other person’s wishes. But, sadly I know that’s not true. Thanks for writing this, Sarah. I think it will help those who have boundary issues beyond tickle boundaries.

  6. I agree whole hearted, but… we also need to teach our children how to asess situations and send clear messages.
    In this case I would add the risk of getting wet to the conversation. If children and adults are playing with water there is always a risk of getting wet, if you do not want to get wet make sure you tell and play somewhere safe from water. I have to often observed children wanting to be “in the game” till it came their turn to get wet, chased, tackled,… At times children use the power of boundries to manipulate play in their favor, the lesson here can be learning to negociate so everyone has fun vs the “little tyrant” syndrome.
    While I do agree that we need to respect our children’s boundries I also feel we need to teach that there is the risk of “getting wet.” That is where the real teaching can happen, every body has a right to change their mind and that needs to be respected and a decleration of intent can help too. “I din’t mean for you to get sad, I thought you wanted to get wet” I just wanted to point out how with all things raising and educating children there is always more to the story and few absolutes.

    • I love this and we had to do just this with one child. He wouldn’t want to play chase but would chase and then when he was tagged would melt down. We had to clearly explain that when you are in the game then you risk getting tagged and it can be fun. He has grown so much but learning boundaries and how to share them is still a big issue. Thank you for your perspective.

  7. So good! Thank you. Just yesterday I was reminded by my own poor attitude and disrespectful tone with my son that I have a long way to go….and grow!

  8. I always had boundaries set at daycare, most children complied. Since I’ve been working with children of addicts, I realize that some are like the parents, they have no boundnaries. Into my second year and I still have to repeat no means no and indoor voice, like a broken record. Treasure God’s gift with love and discipline.

  9. Sometimes I think we forget that our children are the “others” that Jesus talked about, just as much as anyone else. It’s a good reminder that loving our neighbor might just mean the teen-ager in the next room. As my kids grow into young adults, it’s important for me to remember that they need to be afforded respect, listened to instead of talked at, and allowed to make their own decisions.

  10. Thank you for bringing up this subject. It is so important that people respect children’s boundaries and that they know they will be listened to and have their words taken seriously.

  11. Sarah Mae, thank you for this posting, to the Lord for these tender words. Respecting a child’s, an elder’s, anyone’s boundaries is essential to their dignity and well-being lest they feel uncomfortable or, beyond that, violated. So grateful for you for saying that “We honor others when we use self-control.”- its such an act of love and compassion to be aware of how one’s behavior affects another. As I reflect on my behavior with His help, I see the places where He is teaching me grace and healing deep wounds, places where I need to grow and be restored 🙂 May we each treat each other as we would hope to be treated with kindness, respect, and love for “It is in giving that we receive.”

  12. Wise advice, Sarah Mae. A sense of being respected is an important component of security, I think. And giving our children the gift of a loving and secure home is crucial. When worry and fear are minimized, they can pour their energies into positive pursuits. Even we grandparents can do our part!

  13. Sarah Mae,

    Such wise advice! We need to teach children how to treat others and at the same time respect them as well!

    Blessings 🙂