If your child is asking for more independence, it`s important to realize that this is normal. Kids really should want more freedom. They should want to do more with peers as they get older rather than isolating themselves at home. On the other hand, don't let your child bully you into giving them more freedom. If your child is pushing and pushing in order to get you to agree to something, you don't have to respond right away. You can always say, `I need to think about it.` I want to talk to your father and your friend`s parents first.` Take that time to figure out if you`re comfortable with the request, if it`s safe, if your child is ready for more freedom, and what the normal expectations are for kids in his age range. Remember, it`s okay to say `no``and in fact, sometimes that`s exactly what your child needs.
Here are 4 things you can do as a parent to determine if your child is ready for more freedom (or not), and how to give it to him or set firmer limits.
- Develop reasonable expectations. In order to strike the right balance as a parent, it's important to lay the groundwork first by doing your homework. That means finding out what normal expectations are for kids in your child's age group. Norms differ for every age range.Investigate. Talk to others. It`s important not to stay isolated as a parent around these kinds of subjects because then you run the risk of having your child be the one to tell you what the norm is. They might try to push things on you by saying things like, `Gaurav`s mom lets him do it."You don`t necessarily have to abide by his friends` parents rules, but it`s good to know what others out there are doing. Make your own judgment about what your child should be allowed to do based on your family`s values and what you know of your child.
- Be clear and complete with your expectations. Let your kids know what the rules are. If you have a rule that's really important to you, feel free to say it over and over, like a slogan.
- Know the Facts. If your child is asking if he can go to a party, you want to get the facts first and attend to safety concerns (Don`t worry if your child grumbles. Believe it or not, kids actually feel safer when parents set some parameters around their behavior.) Let`s say your child goes to the party, follows all the rules, and comes back in good shape. Chances are the next time it will be easier for you to give him that kind of freedom. Eventually, you might let him take another step toward independence by allowing other kids to go with him in the car.
- Make incremental steps. When it comes to giving your child more independence, start with small steps. If she successfully meets the expectations of each step, then you can add more responsibility or more freedom. For example, if your child wants to have a curfew of 12 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., you might say, `Let`s start at 11:30 p.m. If you can come in at that time for two weeks, we can talk about moving it to 12 p.m.` This way, your child is showing you that she can follow the rules. If you always say `no` out of fear that something bad might happen, the risk is that your child will never learn how to manage independence because she won't have had the opportunities to learn.If your child is acting up and can`t follow your incremental rules, this tells you that she`s not ready for more independence. Generally kids want more freedom and can learn how to earn it.