Boundaries vs Baskets

by | Feb 15, 2017


What’s the difference between boundaries and baskets?  It’s a question I was asked recently and has come up before, so here’s an explanation.

Baskets are what we use in NVR to help determine and prioritise the behaviours that you are going to focus on and those that you are going to ignore for now.  There are three baskets – small, medium and large.  I’ve written about out how to determine what goes where, in a previous blog (click here to read it).

Once you have your priorities set, you’ll have one or two behaviours in the top priority basket and a few in the middle basket.  The behaviours in the top basket are the ones you are focusing on.  The middle basket you can deal with as and when and the bottom or low priority basket are behaviours you are ignoring for now.  This doesn’t mean that your child is ‘getting away with it’, it’s just not your focus for now.  I know that can feel like you are letting your child get away with things and your right in some ways they are.  Alternatively you can see it as picking your battles and stopping yourself from doing too much, which is both exhausting and unproductive, and one of the reasons why we prioritise behaviours in NVR.

So that’s the easy(ish) part.  You’ve decided what you’re going to deal with.

Boundaries are different and as a parent are the bit I still struggle with sometimes.  Often boundaries can be a way of putting in control and trying to manage situations.  We feel we ‘need’ or ‘must’ have boundaries, after all that’s what everyone tells us is important isn’t it?  The key, I’ve learnt, is determining whether I’m genuinely aiming to protect from danger, or infringing on my sons needs or rights.  Over time as our relationship has developed (through using NVR) the very strict boundaries I had in place have been relaxed, they simply are not needed any more as there is natural co-operation and understanding.  It’s by no means perfect, but it is slowly working and reducing the need for boundaries.  That’s my need as a parent, as well as my son’s need.  That’s not to say we don’t have structure, but that’s different.

Boundaries for safety, that are genuinely about safety, need to be there of course, and there will be other boundaries that you feel need to be there.  If the boundary is for a basket behaviour, think about which basket it’s in and whether or not a boundary is appropriate.

I know this can feel counterintuitive, and as a parent it’s something I struggle with but I see it as a work in progress and an area that will change as my relationship with my son continues to develop.

I hope this helps to explain the difference between baskets and boundaries.  As always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.