It isn’t easy figuring out when kids are ready for new responsibilities and privileges. Will he hurt himself? Can he handle it? Will he break something valuable? Can I deal with the anxiety of it?!
From walking to a friend’s to showering to cooking on the grill….it can be hard to know when your child is ready.
With kids of all ages at my house, I get plenty of opportunity to guide them through new stages and trials. Here are some things I have learned along the way to help figure out when kids are ready for new things.
1. Ease into it. Instead of giving a child one big privilege, hand it out in small pieces. For instance, if you are going to allow him to cut up an apple, you can make the first cut then let him cut that into smaller pieces. Remember saying yes doesn’t have to mean he gets to do the whole thing to start with.
2. Talk about it. Give the kids an opportunity to tell you new things they would like to try. I will ask my kids, “What are you dreaming about lately?” and see what ideas they have. They may surprise you with their plans and ideas. Then you can take some time to pray and think about it.
3. Don’t just use the older kids for the hard jobs. My general rule of thumb when I need a job done is to think of the youngest child that can possibly do it. Sure the older ones could do it better and make it easier for me, but if a younger one can do it, I let them. This teaches them responsibility and keeps me from over working the older ones.
4. Ask Dad. Fathers tend to be more lenient than moms and kids need both perspectives. Even though it can be scary, moms need to let Dad have input about what the kids can do. If he thinks it’s OK, then she is wise to listen.
5. Be prepared to let them face the consequences. If you’re going to allow your child to do something, you have to be ready to let them face whatever consequences go along with messing up. If he isn’t ready for that responsibility, then consider taking it slow. For instance, if you are thinking about letting him have his own mp3 player, then make sure he is ready to face the consequences if he doesn’t take good care of it. Lay those consequences out clearly and do not rescue him from them if it happens.
6. It’s not permanent. Remember, if something doesn’t work out, you can always let your child know that you will need to wait a certain amount of time then try again. But be sure to give them hope and some guidance for how to be better prepared next time. We don’t want them to feel like failures, but hopeful and excited to try again.
No matter what the situation, kids need to be able to constantly advance and mature. It is our job as parents to prep them and guide them along the way. There not much better in life than watching your child succeed in something new.
What’s one thing your child might be ready to try?!
Lisa Pennington: Lisa Pennington lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 27 years and their 9 children. She homeschools while trying to figure out how to run their little farm with no real knowledge of how to care for goats or grow a garden, turning her life into a comedy of errors. When she has a few extra minutes, she loves to help other women find their identity in Christ and have the courage to live their calling. She blogs about her family life at The Pennington Point, and runs an etsy shop with her daughters, Shop 24. When people ask how she does it all she replies, “I’m not sure, but I know I need a nap!” You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PenningtonPoint.
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