14 Worksheets for Setting Healthy Boundaries

Healthy Boundaries WorksheetsSetting healthy, unapologetic boundaries offers peace and freedom where life was previously overwhelming and chaotic.

When combined with practicing assertiveness and self-discipline, boundary setting can support us in creating the life we want — one of flourishing (Tawwab, 2021a).

Consequently, boundaries are at the heart of self-care and must be considered a right and a need rather than a privilege or a nice-to-have (Bush, 2015).

In this article, we share several healthy boundaries worksheets we can use ourselves or for our clients to create practical and valued boundaries.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

Understanding What Unhealthy Boundaries Look Like

The American Psychological Association (2018, para. 1) defines a boundary as a “psychological demarcation” that protects individuals and groups by setting “realistic limits in a relationship or activity.”

Boundaries are vital in all relationships, but particularly in work settings, where examples might include (Bush, 2015):

No more than six clients a day
No calls after 7 pm
No work emails on Sunday
No less than four weeks of vacation a year

In our personal and professional lives, boundaries help us honor our natural rhythms, supporting a balance between work and leisure time, and they create the space needed to engage in activities that fill and refresh us (Bush, 2015).

In our relationships with friends, family, and partners, healthy boundaries set expectations “that help you feel safe and comfortable […], mentally and emotionally well, [and when to] say no and when to say yes” (Tawwab, 2021a, p. 3).

Recognizing the signs that appropriate boundaries are not in place is essential. Potential indicators include (Tawwab, 2021a):

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling resentful of people asking for our help
  • Avoiding calls and interactions with others in case they ask for something
  • Making comments about helping people and not receiving anything in return
  • Feeling burned out
  • Regularly daydreaming about dropping everything and running away
  • Having no time for ourselves

In Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, author and licensed therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab (2021a) describes micro-boundary violations as occurring in everyday encounters rather than long-term relationships. They are relatively insignificant and don’t typically impact the rest of our day.

For example:

During a casual conversation, a colleague continues to step closer, invading your personal space, despite your attempts to subtly step back and create some distance.

On the other hand, macro-boundary violations “erode the fabric of our relationships with others” (Tawwab, 2021a, p. 79). As such, they are long standing and persistent.

For example:

Your partner insists they make all major life decisions, from where you live to what job you take. They claim to know what’s best for both of you. It leaves you feeling powerless and undermines your autonomy inside and outside the relationship.

Typically, unhealthy boundaries create opportunities and conditions for frustration, anger, mistrust, and resentment. They usually take one of the following forms (Tawwab, 2021b):

  1. Nonexistent boundaries: For example, sharing personal or intimate details with anyone who will listen, letting others make decisions for you, or accepting disrespectful or abusive behavior
  2. Weak or poorly expressed boundaries: For example, spending no time apart from a partner, being unable to say no, or supporting unhealthy habits that keep people codependent
  3. Rigid boundaries: For example, putting walls up to protect ourselves from others, keeping our distance to avoid getting hurt, or believing we don’t need anyone

In How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships, we dig deeper into the importance and psychological theory behind boundary setting.

This video on setting boundaries is particularly valuable for understanding what forms they take in relationships and how to set them.

Setting boundaries - Mental health lessons

In contrast, “9 Signs of Poor Boundaries” helps us identify when their protective benefits are most needed but absent.

9 Signs of poor boundaries

2 Worksheets to Help Set Boundaries at Work

“When we define what we need to feel secure and healthy, when we need it, and create tools to protect those parts of ourselves, we can do wonders for our wellbeing at work and home” (Sanok, 2022, para 3).

The following two worksheets help us identify where boundaries are needed in the workplace and when environments have become toxic.

1. Work boundaries

It is vital to identify where stronger boundaries are needed and what’s required to put them in place.

Use this Work Boundaries worksheet to check off areas currently causing challenges in your professional life.

Then, for each one, define a boundary you need to set, using “I need,” “I expect,” or “I want” to capture your needs and expectations.

For example:

I want to keep my personal life separate from my professional one. When conversations at work turn personal, I will politely steer them back to work-related subjects or not get involved. I expect my colleagues to respect my privacy.

2. Handling toxic environments

Toxic work environments can damage work relationships, performance, and wellbeing and erode healthy boundaries.

Thinking about how you will react to specific situations before they occur can help avoid repeating past habitual responses and mistakenly becoming part of the toxic problem.

For example:

When I have issues with my coworker, I can:

Address the issue calmly and directly with them. I will explain how their actions affect me and aim for mutual understanding and resolution.

When I have issues with my boss, I can:

Schedule a private meeting to discuss my concerns directly and professionally. I will aim to find constructive solutions or compromises.

Think about those times you’ve felt content and happy at work.

What were the circumstances?

Reflecting on these moments can help you identify what a healthy work environment looks like for you and work toward it. The Handling Toxic Environments worksheet will guide you through the process.

Download 3 Free Positive Relationships Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients to build healthy, life-enriching relationships.

3 Printable Worksheets About Setting Boundaries With Family

While families can be a source of great support and comfort, they can also be challenging due to past conflicts and misunderstandings. Setting and communicating boundaries helps people move forward from past issues and create healthier relationships (Tawwab, 2021a).

The following three worksheets help set and maintain boundaries within families.

1. Visualizing your boundaries

Picturing the limits we set ourselves in family relationships can help us define what we do and do not accept more clearly.

The Visualizing Your Boundaries worksheet helps create a picture capturing what gives us energy, leaves us feeling drained, and makes us feel stressed, uncomfortable, or unsafe when we connect with relations.

2. State what you want

Perhaps because we have grown up around our family, we often don’t see the boundaries that are needed or state what we do and don’t want in our relationships with them.

In the State What You Want worksheet, begin by identifying and reflecting on your values. Then, when dealing with a complicated relationship or situation, state your preferences and needs using the following:

I’d like to …
I’d prefer to …
I’d rather …
I want to …

3. Setting boundaries with family

Inevitably in families, issues arise and boundaries can be damaged. Addressing problems as they appear is critical to maintaining healthy dynamics and reducing frustration.

In this exercise, we reflect on situations that occur within the family and how you can choose to respond.

For example:

You discover a family member is sharing your personal information with other relatives or friends.

Your preferred response:

I’ve heard that you have been sharing some of my personal information with others. I want to keep certain things private, and it’s important to me that my privacy is respected. Let’s agree to keep our conversations between us, or please ask me if you think you should share something.

To plan the most appropriate response to your challenging situations, use the Setting Boundaries With Family worksheet.

Implementing Boundaries in Healthy Relationships Worksheets

Boundaries in healthy relationshipsWhen people are unaware that treating others in a certain way is wrong, they may view it as an expected and acceptable part of a relationship (Tawwab, 2021a).

The following two worksheets focus on recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships and choosing how we interact with others.

1. Identifying healthy and unhealthy friendships

Our relationships with friends grow and evolve over time. While they typically get stronger and deeper, they can also become damaging and unhealthy.

In this exercise, we look at signs of healthy versus unhealthy friendships.

Use it to identify the relationships you should continue to nurture and those you should step back from.

Here are some examples.

A healthy relationship:

Alex and I have been friends since college. We always support each other through life’s ups and downs, celebrating successes and respecting each other’s space and boundaries without judgment.

An unhealthy relationship:

Spending time with Morgan leaves me feeling drained. She shares my personal stories without consent and dismisses my concerns. The friendship feels one sided and lacking in trust.

Once completed, determine which friendships you should continue to nurture and which you may need to let go.

2. Choosing conversations to have

Our relationships all differ, so it doesn’t mean we enjoy the same conversations with all our friends.

In this worksheet, we identify what sorts of conversations we do and don’t like to have.

The exercise helps us recognize “hot topics” that can lead to upset on either or both sides.

For example:

I enjoy discussing our travel experiences, books we’ve read recently, and future goals with Emily.

I prefer not to discuss politics with Emily. Our views differ significantly, so it can lead to tension.

Reflect on your answers as you go through the exercise. Remember that it’s okay to favor specific conversations and steer clear of others.

Setting Healthy Boundaries With Parents

Setting boundaries with parents is vital to flourishing as an adult and aids in the development of all concerned (Innis, 2023; Tawwab, 2021a).

The following two exercises support positive boundary setting and clear communication.

1. Saying no

Confidently and respectfully saying no to parents can be difficult, but sometimes it is necessary.

In this worksheet, having visualized the boundaries and identified personal values, the individual practices what it’s like to refuse or decline to do something.

2. Setting healthy boundaries with my parents

Our parents do not always recognize who we are and what we have learned as adults. As a result, it may be necessary to revisit boundaries.

In this exercise, we identify areas where healthier boundaries are needed and learn how to articulate them more clearly.

For example:

I need to keep certain aspects of my romantic relationship private. I will share what I’m comfortable with, but I expect you to respect my privacy and not probe for intimate details.

Setting boundaries with parents is not easy, but it is essential for your autonomy and the health of your relationship.

Games to Teach Children About Boundary Setting

Boundary games for childrenRole-playing games are excellent for teaching children about boundary setting. The parent, teacher, or coach can pitch them according to age and intellectual ability.

They also offer helpful ways for children to learn how to express their needs in a safe space.

Here are three possible game scenarios.

  • Scenario one:
    A friend wants to play with your favorite toy, but you’re not ready to share it yet.

Objective: Practice saying no to sharing a toy politely and suggesting an alternative toy or activity.

  • Scenario two:
    Someone is standing too close to you, making you feel uncomfortable.

Objective: Practice asking someone to step back and respect your personal space.

  • Scenario three:
    Your friend wants to play a game, but it’s not one you enjoy.

Objective: Practice expressing what you prefer to do and negotiating a game both of you would like.


  1. Explain the concept of boundaries.
    Begin by explaining what boundaries are in simple terms.

For example, “Boundaries are like invisible lines that help us feel safe and happy. They tell others what we are okay with and what we are not okay with.

  1. Introduce the role-play activity.

Tell your child you will play a game where you pretend to be different people in various situations.

The goal is to practice respectfully saying what we like and don’t like.

  1. Select a scenario.

Choose one scenario from the list above or create your own based on your child’s experiences and situation.

  1. Act out the scenario.

Take turns playing different roles in the scenario.

You might be a friend, family member, or anyone else involved while your child practices setting their boundary.

  1. Discuss the scenario.

After acting out each scenario, talk it through with your child.

Ask how they feel about what they could say or do in real life and emphasize the importance of respecting their and others’ boundaries.

What to Say When Someone Crosses Your Boundaries

When others cross our boundaries, it’s vital to “be clear, and focus on the solution, not the problem” (Tawwab, 2021b, p. 61).

After all, the boundary is the solution. It sets out what we want to happen and what makes us feel comfortable and safe.

We should aim to set our boundaries in one or two sentences by stating what we need and want or simply saying no.

Use the following phrases to help you speak your truth:

I want …

I want some time to myself on weekends. It helps me recharge and be more present during our time together.

I need …

I need to be told about family gatherings in advance. It helps me to manage my schedule and commitments more effectively.

I expect …

I expect you to ask before borrowing my things. It’s a matter of personal respect and privacy.

Next time …

Next time you want to discuss something sensitive, let’s ensure we’re both in a good space to discuss it. It makes the conversation more productive.

Note that “no” can precede any statements as appropriate.

17 Exercises for Positive, Fulfilling Relationships

Empower others with the skills to cultivate fulfilling, rewarding relationships and enhance their social wellbeing with these 17 Positive Relationships Exercises [PDF].

Created by experts. 100% Science-based.

Other PositivePsychology.com Resources

We have many resources available for therapists to support individuals to improve their relationships with others.

Our free resources include:

  • Group Boundary Setting 
    This group exercise provides an opportunity to practice setting boundaries with others.
  • Personal Boundary Continuum
    This exercise will help your client define their boundaries in different life domains, with differing degrees of rigidity.
  • Dealing With Boundary Violations
    Learn eight vital steps for identifying and dealing with boundary violations.

More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, but they are described briefly below:

  • Establishing Upper and Lower Bounds

Upper and lower bounds in a project represent the smallest and largest amount of work one will complete each day on a project and can help prevent burnout.

    • Step one – Identify a list of priority projects.
    • Step two – Establish upper and lower bounds for each one: never less than X, never more than Y.
    • Step three – After several weeks of working on each project, assess productivity and whether any difficulties have been encountered.

Ask yourself, how has putting in boundaries benefited my overall wellbeing and work–life balance?

  • Building the 5 Rituals of Connection

Creating rituals encourages positive and increased communicative behavior in a relationship. Try out the following four steps:

    • Step one – Identify several ritual types and opportunities, such as parting, affection, and date nights.
    • Step two – Define the actions required to translate a ritual into a reality.
    • Step three – Track and record weekly rituals.
    • Step four – Reflect on positive emotions that arise and the impact of putting in place meaningful rituals.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others build healthy relationships, this collection contains 17 validated positive relationships tools for practitioners.  Use them to help others form healthier, more nurturing, and life-enriching relationships.

A Take-Home Message

Maintaining healthy, positive relationships with friends, family, and partners and creating an effective work–life balance require limits (Tawwab, 2021a; Bush, 2015).

We can only do so much for so long; there are limits on what we can do and give.

Setting boundaries asserts our values and meaningful goals while creating a journey of self-care.

Setting, communicating, and living by healthy boundaries can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed, resentful, and dropping out of the situation we find ourselves in.

Ultimately, boundaries “are expectations and needs that help you feel safe and comfortable in your relationships” (Tawwab, 2021a, p. 3).

In this article, we shared 14 powerful worksheets that help identify where boundaries are needed, define healthy ones, and communicate them to those who attempt to infringe them.

We can use them across multiple life domains, including family, work, and relationships, and tailor them to cover all other aspects of our lives.

Why not try them out yourself or with your clients? They offer support, protection, and balance to live a life of flourishing that is in line with personal goals rather than the needs of others.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free.

  • American Psychological Association. (2018). Boundary. In APA dictionary of psychology. https://dictionary.apa.org/boundary.
  • Bush, A. D. (2015). Simple self-care for therapists: Restorative practices to weave through your workday. W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Innis, G. (2023). Boundaries and expectations are important parenting tools. MSU Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/boundaries_and_expectations_are_important_parenting_tools.
  • Sanok, J. (2022, April 14). A guide to setting better boundaries. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/04/a-guide-to-setting-better-boundaries.
  • Tawwab, N. G. (2021a). Set boundaries, find peace: A guide to reclaiming yourself. Little Brown Book Group.
  • Tawwab, N. G. (2021b). Set boundaries workbook: Practical exercises for understanding your needs and setting healthy limits. Little Brown Book Group.

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