The Unlimited Liberation of Boundaries

Often, when I talk with people about boundaries, the first thing that comes to mind is a limit. And to a degree, that is true. What is so exciting to me though is how creating limits with boundaries is actually liberating! Hence “Expansive Boundaries!”

Don’t just take my word for it though! In 2006 Landscape Architecture student Peter Summerlin, Associate ASLA, conducted a study that explored the impact of either having a fence or not having a fence around a children’s playground area. This is what Summerlin found:

It might seem contradictory for me to say that healthy boundary-making leads to liberation, and yet, When we know where the line is, we are free to explore, play, and create bravely!

Jennifer Alumbaugh, MS

A simple study was conducted to discover the effects of a fence around a playground and the consequent impact it would have on preschool children.  Teachers were to take their children to a local playground in which there was no fence during their normal recess hour.  The kids were to play as normal.  The same group was to be taken to a comparable playground in which there was a defined border designated by a fence.


In the first scenario, the children remained huddled around their teacher, fearful of leaving out of her sight.  The later scenario exhibited drastically different results, with the children feeling free to explore within the given boundaries.


The overwhelming conclusion was that with a given limitation, children felt safer to explore a playground.  Without a fence, the children were not able to see a given boundary or limit and thus were more reluctant to leave the caregiver.  With a boundary, in this case the fence, the children felt at ease to explore the space.  They were able to separate from the caregiver and continue to develop in their sense of self while still recognizing that they were in a safe environment within the limits of the fence.


Peter Summerlin, Associate ASLA, Research Abstract

As Adults, We’re Not that Different

Across the board, in every relationship I can imagine, healthy boundary making and affirming practices lead to liberation:

  • In the workplace with coworkers, supervisors, and directors
  • In the community with neighbors, friends, and organizations
  • In personal relationships around physical touch, intimacy, and play
  • In parenting
  • In relationships with relatives
  • In online conversations and comment threads
  • In watching the news and consuming content about the world around us

Learning and practicing ways to create strategic boundaries in all the different scenarios, settings, and relationships we have in life means that when we give our Yes! we do it authentically and with intention.

Want to Boost Your Boundary Practices?

If you’ve been wanting to strengthen your boundary-making muscles, I have THREE different opportunities for you to dive in!

If you’d like to talk with Jennifer about any of these or other opportunities click button to schedule a FREE 20min curiosity call.

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