“Mom, can I hang in the park with my friends tonight?” “Dad, can I watch the R-rated movie with you?” “Can I have a later bedtime? All my friends do!”
Whether you like to think about them or not, these questions are coming your way. Your gut reaction might be, “No way!” You’re responsible for your child’s safety and well-being, after all. Before you shut the conversation down, though, remember that you also must help them grow up. That means letting them push some boundaries and spread their wings.
Saying yes to your kid when you really want to say no can be hard, however. Finding ways to give permission while helping them learn can make it easier. Try the tactics below — you may soon have a child who’s willing to take on more responsibility for additional freedoms.
Stay in Touch
Did you spend your childhood running through the neighborhood with your friends? How many hours did you go without seeing or talking to your parents? It’s a bummer, but those days are largely gone. Now if your kids are out playing, frequent check-ins are important to make sure they’re safe.
Let’s be real, though. You can’t stop what you’re doing and go find them every hour. So how do you stay in touch? Try a smartwatch for kids. It’s a combo phone, GPS tracker, and emergency notification system your child can wear on their wrist. It connects to an app on your phone so you can quickly locate and contact them when necessary.
Let Them Start Using Plastic
It shouldn’t be a surprise that, after seeing you whip out your debit card, your child might want one, too. The thought of your kid managing their own money might have you seeing overdraft fees in your sleep. Think about it for a second, though. The earlier your child learns good financial habits, the better off they’ll be in the long run.
So open a joint checking account with your teen (or a savings account with a debit card for kids 12 and under). It’s a great way to teach them money management and introduce the concept of earning an allowance through age-appropriate chores. Discuss what it takes to make money and how best to budget funds. Before giving them a debit card, ask them to create a financial strategy for saving some of their money.
Insist They Tackle Responsibilities First
How often has your child asked you for permission to do something at an inopportune time? It could be as simple as wanting to see a movie the Wednesday night before a big project is due. Sure, it’s a school night, but should you automatically nix the plan? Maybe not.
Use their appeal for a mid-week entertainment outing as a teachable moment about handling their responsibilities. Greenlight the movie (or game or concert) if they can prove their homework and chores are complete. Don’t be afraid to reverse course if they fall short and fail to get everything done. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but they’ll remember to get their work done first next time.
Talk About Tough Topics
Speaking of movies, what if your child asks to join you for the R-rated film you’re planning to watch? Maybe it’s about a controversial subject or deals with something extremely sad. Is it an action movie with violence or a flick with intense themes about relationships? Even if your knee-jerk reaction is to say no, think about it first.
A yes response might be possible if your child is willing to talk about the movie with you. Set aside some time before the movie to explain what they will see and let them ask questions. If they still want to watch, tell them you’ll discuss it all again after the movie is over. This is your opportunity to help your child gain a healthy understanding of grown-up topics.
Arrange an Alarm
The older your child gets, the harder they’ll likely push for a later bedtime. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Delaying their sleep schedule leaves more time for family game night, finishing chores, or studying for tests. Approving an extra hour or so before lights out can open the door for fun and productive times.
Getting to yes with this request means your child must rise to the occasion. Staying up later means making sure they wake themselves up on time. Put your child in charge of setting a daily alarm. Pay attention, though. If they’re sluggish over the next several days, their old bedtime might be a better idea.
Parenting is, without a doubt, the toughest job you’ll ever have. Constantly telling your kids no can be a real drag. You don’t want to be a total yes mom or dad either, though. Finding that happy medium is the goal when it comes to guiding your kids through their childhood.
Being successful means finding the times where your parent brain initially says no and turning that response into a yes. This could involve using a tool to keep tabs on your kid or snagging moments to teach some life lessons. Try these tactics to give your kids more freedoms bit by bit, while supporting their healthy, safe growth.