Setting Bedroom Boundaries...How to reclaim your space without disowning the kids!


"My stepkids come into our bedroom all the time, even when I need some quiet time to work on my college classwork. How can I change things?" This question was recently posed by a stepmom who adores her stepchildren but needs her

bedroom to be a quiet spot for uninterrupted studying.

I love that she wants to find a way to study while not making the kids feel shut out completely.

My response is filled with strategies to help her find a balance between her little one wanting her attention and her need to have study time. My Response: Dear Kylie, The steps outlined below will allow you to set up some boundaries and also allow for “Saturday Morning Snuggles” as well. Remember to be patient, your stepkids are comfortable how things are and these changes may take some time to become a new habit.

As for your need for quiet to complete homework, consider the steps below as a pathway to success. They seemed to work well for my clients in the past. 1. Decide on the new family rule In our family the rule is: If the door is closed you knock and ask for permission to come in. If the person inside says no, you may come back later or ask them to come get you when they have time. This goes for everyone in the home! It's important parents and kids know their privacy (or need for quiet time) will be respected. (Of course, as parents we may need to tweak this depending on the child and his or her behavior.) 2. Practice the family rule It may take a while for the new rule to really set in, using gentle reminders will help. “Hey, remember we have the family rule that we knock and wait to be invited in? Next time please knock and wait for me to say ‘Come in.’”

Young kids may need to actually practice this as a new skill. Your husband can stand inside the room with the door closed and you can be outside the door with your child to prompt him through the steps. First we knock, then we ask "Can I come in?" and then we wait for Dad to say, "Come in." Praise appropriate behaviors: “Hey, thanks for knocking first, I really appreciate that!”

One of the best ways to make the change you want is to model it in your own behavior.