Carrots vs. Consequences for Successful Time Boundaries

assertive boundaries
Carrots help make your boundaries stick.

So, what do carrots have to do with setting time boundaries?

Well, setting time boundaries can present interpersonal challenges.

And this may be especially true when you are in the early stages of learning to use this powerful time tool.

Basically, when you set a boundary you are saying “No” to someone or something. And that doesn’t always go over well.

You may experience this most frequently when setting boundaries with children. They may only see that you are not available to them. And they may have very little interest in or understanding of why that is so.

Carrots vs. consequences.

So, carrots are rewards and consequences are, well, consequences.

When setting and maintaining time boundaries, it’s important to remember that rewards, especially for children, are more effective than consequences.

When you’re asking people to respect your time boundaries, the key is to explain the reward when you explain the boundary.  So, you might say, “I’m going to work at my desk for half an hour and after that, we’ll play with your Legos.”

That works better than the consequence — which might be getting angry at someone for interrupting you after you have asked them not to.

When will it be over?

It’s also important, when setting your boundary, to be clear about the endpoint. This gives others (and you) a clear frame.

And for children, in particular, it makes the waiting much less onerous.

So, as you’re speaking to your child, you can add, “I’ll hang a scarf on my door and when I take the scarf off, that’s when we’ll play.”

Follow-through is key.

Make sure to follow through with the reward when the time comes. This builds trust, whether it’s with another person or with yourself.

You might even note that this is what you had mentioned previously. “I’ve finished my half-hour of desk work and now let’s play with your Legos!” 

This helps to reinforce your appreciation for what they have done. It also reminds them that you are following through on your end of the bargain. 

Those carrots may help you, too.

There are two ways that using ‘carrots’ will help you, as well:

  • Offering a reward to others diminishes any feelings of discomfort or guilt you may experience as you work to be assertive and follow-through with maintaining your time boundaries.
  • Using rewards doesn’t just apply to others. When you use time boundaries to help yourself stay focused and on-task, giving yourself a reward at the end is a very effective incentive.

How have you used rewards in setting time boundaries for others or for yourself?

How has it worked for you?

For more help…

ow often do distractions and interruptions pull you off track? If you feel thwarted by some of your own choices, learn to support yourself by setting and maintaining meaningful inner boundaries.  My complimentary Inner Boundary Checklist is designed to help you do just that. 

So, are you ready to empower yourself? Use this powerful Checklist with 15 simple steps to set and maintain strong, clear internal boundaries. The Inner Boundary Checklist helps you follow through on what you say you will do.

Click this link to give yourself this complimentary tool today.

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