Setting Boundaries (contributed by Kim Lemay)  

 

As a peer leader you want to connect with your students on a peer-to-peer level but you also want them to respect you as you assist in teaching FYE. In order to be able to establish an effective relationship and promote communication and respect, be aware of: (1) Professional Behavior, (2) Self-disclosure, (3) Correcting Inappropriate Behavior, and (4) Preparedness.

1. Professional Behavior

It is important that as a peer leader you are able to self-assess your personal values, morals and feelings regarding different situations, so you can be aware of what your feelings are.

According to Varcarolis & Halter (2010, p. 163). it is important to take time to be reflective and aware of our thoughts and actions before and during any interaction with students, family and peers. Once we understand our own values and beliefs we are then able to be sensitive and accepting of the unique and different values and beliefs of others.

As a peer leader, once you understand yourself, you are better able to put your values and beliefs aside when interacting with various members of the C.C.S.U community, and are able to be less judgmental to whatever situation arises.

The behavior you express is an important aspect of setting boundaries. It may make students feel too comfortable around you and not treat you like an authority figure, thus taking advantage of you. Your behavior is also a reflection on yourself, and negative behaviors reflect poorly on you when observed by other peers, teachers and the C.C.S.U. community.

2. Self-disclosure

When appropriate, you may want to share some of your personal experiences. It is important to use discretion regarding on what you share about your personal life and experiences. If you feel it is appropriate to share a personal experience and the situation warrants it, feel free to do so only if you feel comfortable.

3. Correcting Inappropriate Behavior

Your responsibility as a peer leader is to be a role model. If you encounter inappropriate behavior, such as cell phone usage in class don't be afraid to say something. You are there to provide guidance and be a role model for the college experience. As a peer leader it is important to set physical boundaries including the use to touch, meeting up between or after class as well as how to handle flirting. Establishing personal space is important. Items to consider are how to communicate with students via social media, email, and cell phone or text messages. It depends on what you are comfortable with and how much you are willing to share with others. Without these it is easy for boundaries to become blurred.

4. Preparedness

Being prepared for each class and being on time is important not only to convey professionalism and respect for your student peers, but to help you feel less flustered. Allow time after each FYE class and interaction with your student peers to do a little self-reflection and self-assessment. As peer leaders, we need to continually address our personal behaviors, learn from our experiences and understand that we will always have new situations thrown our way.

Source Used

Varcarolis, E.M., & Halter, M.J. (2010). Therapeutic Relationships. In Foundations of

Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing: A Clinical Approach (pp. 163-164). St. Louis, MI:

Saunders Elsevier.

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