As a parent you hope that as your child grows up they remember what you have taught them and can apply them to daily activities. Having a say in what your child wears, listens to, sees, and does is a big part of parenting and allowing your child to grow and mature. So how much involvement is too much and when do you stop trying to tell your child what they can or cannot do?
The Younger Years
Most parents will agree that when their children were younger it was easier to dictate what they wore, what they listened to, what they could or could not do. Young children depend on their parents to provide proper rules and guidelines so that hopefully as they continue to grow they will be able to take those rules and apply them to themselves and eventually begin to monitor their own behavior. Yes it is quite easy to have more of a say in everything that young children participate in because they require it. As they continue to grow, however, you may need to adjust your parenting skills to foster a more independent child. Here are some suggestions to giving younger children a say in the decisions being made without totally losing control:
•When it comes to clothes young children like to feel responsible for picking their own outfits. We as parents know that this can be quite a challenge as their ability to pick matching outfits is quite limited. One way to fix this problem is to pick out two or three outfits for them, lay them out, and then have them choose between the ones you have already picked. This still gives you control over the clothes you want them to wear, and still allows them to feel like they are making their own decision.
•With young children there has to be specific consequences to negative behavior as this often the only way they will learn not to repeat it. When it comes to having a say in what they can or cannot do make sure that expectations are clearly set so that there is no question as to what happens if the rules are broken. Remind them of the choices and consequences so that they can hopefully make the right choice and avoid the negative consequence.
•The most important thing with young children is that they have choices. No one wants to feel like they are being controlled by anyone so giving them choices for everything makes them feel like they are responsible for their own actions.
Young Adult Years
For the sake of this article we will consider adolescent teenagers as well as kids in their late high school years as young adults (while most of them are still just 8 year olds at heart). While most of hope to have a say in how teens dress, act, and do the reality of it is that we don’t and if we try to force things on them they will just turn their backs and run (some of them literally). So how do we continue to have a say in what our child wears, listens to, sees, and does when they reach this crucial age and turning point in their lives? Here are some suggestions:
•Just as we desire to be independent and free to choose the direction we are going in life, so do our teens. Telling them what to wear or how to behave has never gone over well with anyone, so you must first realize that this approach will never work. Let them know what you deem appropriate and what you don’t and then give them the chance to prove to you that they can meet those expectations. Most will meet them if given the choice; if they don’t then you can address those issues when they come around.
•While some teens are not respectful to adults, most are and if shown the proper respect in return they will be more willing to meet you on your level. As you continue to allow them to be themselves make sure that you show them the same respect and love that you would expect in return.
It’s almost impossible and quite unhealthy for a parent to micromanage what your child wears, listens to, sees, and does. Children need to grow and learn and can only do so with parents that give them choices, clear expectations, respect, trust, and love. It is possible to have a say, but don’t try and control every aspect of their life.