How Boundaries Develop During Childhood and Adolescence
11. How did your boundaries develop? How much was influenced by your childhood? Join me as I go through learnings from natural human development philosophies like Baby Led Weaning to better understand how we somehow got to adulthood with a certain set of boundaries.
Are you conscious of your personal boundaries? All of them? Not everyone has the same ones, seen easily from culture to culture. So how do we go about understanding our boundaries better? That's the answer I wanted for a long time.
I bring in learnings from a bunch of readings on natural human body and mind development and let you decide how your environment, society, family and friends have influenced your choices in having certain boundaries.
Consider how parents make decisions about your body from a young age, it could be piercings to your hair length. The food you eat and how you should eat. What values you should have, spiritually or religious wise.
All of this is taken in before our mind is fully developed. That is about 25 years of influence before we are 100% mature (according to research on emotional intelligence).
Then, the question becomes if our mind isn't fully developed to its full, ripe state when we learn about our body, do you then assume personal boundaries and go about your life without fully understanding the impact on us and our relationships.
Grubinger, Lenore. "On the Way to Walking: The Essential Guide to Natural Movement Development". Florence, MA: Amajoy Developmental Movement & Bodywork, 2016.
MacNamara, Deborah. "Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (Or Anyone Who Acts Like One". Vancouver, Aona Books, 2016.
Hanscom, Angela J. "Balanced and Barefoot (How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children)". Oakland, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2016.
Rapley, Gill and Tracey Murkett. "Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide - How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater". New York, The Experiment, 2010.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: Why it Matters More than IQ". Bantam, 1995.
Payne, Kim John and Ross, Lisa M. "Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids". Ballantine Books, 2010.
I’m T. Vyas, you can call me T became most people do. I’m, as you’ve guessed, a person of colour who looks forward to chatting with you about some things identity, some things colour and ALL things Love! Tune in Tuesdays for a new episode! In the meantime, you can find me on Instagram @bareinmind.podcast
You're listening to Love How Brown Cow, Episode Number 11.
A podcast about love, colour, and identity, and we're driving yourself crazy is totally sane and curable. Now your host T. Vyas.
Today, I'm back talking about boundaries, and the first time I spoke about boundaries was in episode number seven, and it was boundaries for beginners, and in this episode, I'm going to take a more broader approach to boundaries. And the reason for that is, in the upcoming episodes, I'm going to be talking about intimacy and then boundaries in relation to ethnicity, and you really can't have a discussion about boundaries without really touching on intimacy. And with this broader approach, I'm also going to be looking at boundaries through the perspective of natural human development from childhood to adulthood, and by kind of taking this perspective, it allows you to look at boundaries in a way that you can realise what your personal boundaries are and how they've been influenced from society, your culture, your family, or your friends. And for me, this really helped give me insight into my own personal boundaries, and then what are my own personal ones, what are the personal boundaries that I actually want to uphold in my life, in my relationships, and also without sacrificing intimacy in those relationships. So I'm going to start with looking at only the body and the mind as those are the two real boundaries that exist, so we have our physical body, which is our own entity, and then anything in our minds that we've constructed outside of our body, so that could be time, money, possessions, etcetera.
And all the information that I'm providing here, it comes from a lot of different books, so I have those listed in the show notes as well. So let's start with the day you're born. When a baby is born, and it exits the womb, it actually doesn't know at that moment that it is separate from its mother. And so it doesn't even know it has its own body, and this doesn't happen until after three months, so then for the first year, all the baby is doing is realising: hey, I have my own body and I have to get to know it. And this getting to know their own body is really important because at around one year, all human beings need to learn how to walk, and that doesn't happen until they realise: Hey, I have hands, arms, legs, and I can do things with them. And so that's why in the first year, a baby gets to know their body just simply by being free being on the floor, on their back or on their stomach. And society and this is an example of where society influences this natural development is babies in the modern world now are always harnessed in, they’re in car seats or they're in the buggy or the pram (stroller), and they're also in these things called the bouncer to help contain them and sometimes this is for safety reasons and good reasons, but a lot of times the natural kind of evolution needs to happen outside of when the baby is harnessed in. So then our development at this time is very centred around getting to know ourselves, our body and then our world. Things like sight and things like that also change at the same time, and then at around the one year mark, babies start to consume solid food, and this is also another example of how society influences that boundary.
And according to natural development philosophy and this is also known today as Baby-Led Weaning is that a baby doesn't consume solid food until around the one year mark, however, in our modern world, a lot of babies in the country that I live in, babies are introduced and expected to eat solid food at four months. So then food becomes this other boundary in ways that we don't even realise food is part of the body, because it is something that actually goes into your body, and so it is actually a body boundary. And also what is happening in toddlerhood is usually at this age range, they're getting potty trained and so they're getting used to their body, they're getting used to putting food in their mouth, and then they're realising that something is coming out of their body, and this is also a body boundary. So whatever goes in also how it comes out and you can see that that also influences how people handle discussing that part, whether it's food or your digestive system, and how it's handled during your potty train and how hygiene is handled, are also ways that influence how you think about body boundaries. And you can see those play out into adulthood, people freely comment on food about another person's food, so there'll be small comments like: Oh, you can go ahead and eat that, or are you really gonna have another?
And that comes into play into a body boundary. Food essentially is part of your body. And then when it comes to the mind of a toddler, which I mean, no one really understands the mind of a toddler, but at this stage, they're also learning how to speak and with it, they're learning how to ask for what they want and what they need, and they're learning about all these various extensions of their body. So food is a big one, and then they're also realising their clothes, they might not like having clothes on or off and their hair, and all of these other extensions with regard to their body. In a personal example, that you can see of how society influences the extensions of your body, was that when I was two years old, my ears were pierced, my parents decided this because of our culture, of our Indian culture, to pierce my ears. And so from toddlerhood until around eight or nine years old, the other big thing that's developing within us is movement, once we learn how to walk, children become really interested in different movements, they become more active in the playground, they love to dance, or they love to kick the ball, and all of this kind of coordination and body movements and movements, like the sense of spinning, being spun around, they love to be spun around are kind of all the ways in which they're still getting to know their body.
And in some cultures, body confidence in women are taught that they actually need to be in sports at a young age, like a four or five years old, and according to natural body development, that since our body is still getting to know movements and coordination that actually, the way to build more body confidence would be around after introducing sports or any... anything like that, any movements like that, that are formal, introducing that at a later stage, like eight or nine years old. And all the while that they're getting to know their body, there are two big mind shifts or brain changes that happen. One is between the ages of five to seven, and you can see this in little children because they tend to have less tantrums and they're able to manage their emotions a little bit better, and then the other big mind change is decision making, which happens around 10 or 11 years old. Now, the age ranges can vary depending on developmental delays can happen later, but around this time, around 10 or 11, they changed to a more fully developed cognitive way of thinking and making decisions. So these big mind changes really allow a child to feel anger but then not want hit their younger sibling, or they start to understand abstract ideas like money and time as they get older. And these are constructs that they don't understand at a younger age, but they can realise now that they own time, that they have their own time, they have really their own possessions, they need their own space, and with all of this comes the exciting age between 11 years and 18 years, and we get into the teenager age, which is where puberty happens.
And with that comes that milestone of kind of having more control of your mind and more control of your body, and then boom, a big body change happens to you during this time, and one of the big realisations that happens for teenagers is that they can now experience intimacy, emotional and physical intimacy outside of their immediate family. And you can perhaps more clearly see how society or culture handles intimacy, both the emotional and the physical intimacy, with how they educate teenagers about intimacy, and what kind of influences peer or media influences that they get around intimacy can start to develop a viewpoint early on. And also at this stage, a teenager is exploring their own values, their own interests, and that can sometimes collide with their immediate family, and they're trying to set up their own identity, so this kind of develops until about the age of 25 with other peer groups happening later in life and getting kind of that sense of who they are, even if it's in contrast to their immediate family.
So in 25 years, we've actually learned a lot about boundaries and intimacy already, and we've done so in an unconscious way because our mind is still developing and we might not even be aware that we're taking on a lot of these influences in our lives into adulthood, and we can't filter out what we really want in our boundaries and intimacy in our relationships, and how do we go about deciding consciously the boundaries and the type of intimacy that we want in adulthood.
So I'm gonna wrap it up here as I've covered about 25 years in less than 15 minutes, and in my next episode, I'm going to focus more on intimacy. I'll check back with you next week.
Thanks for listening, tune in next Tuesday for another episode. And in the meantime, check out Love How Brown Cow on Instagram: @lovehowbc. Bye for now.