Ask the kids what they think

Do you like other people deciding what you should wear? What you should eat? Where you’ll go on the weekend?

No, amiright?

If you’ve been asked to perform a task, would you be happy if that person then completed the task because they didn’t trust you? How about if you’re moaned at because you didn’t do the job to their liking?

That’s probably also a no.

Do you like making a decision that turns out to be great for everyone? How amazing is the feeling of achievement when you’ve finished a tricky task by yourself?

I know I do.

How about being trusted to make an important decision that will impact the whole team? Or to do a regular task that helps the team succeed?

More of this, please.

Now that you know how you would feel, imagine how our children must feel when we don’t entrust important decisions or tasks to them?

They are little beings with the same feelings as us adults. Treat them with the same respect you’d treat me with.

My wife and I work hard with our children. We place boundaries and enable them freedom within those boundaries to make their own decisions and deal with any consequences from those decisions.

It’s not perfect. But it appears to be working. So it can’t be all that bad.

Here’s a little picture of how our house runs:

  • We treat our family as a team. And everyone in the team plays their part.
  • Our boys, aged 6 and 8, make their own breakfast in the morning and get their own drinks at all times of the day.
  • They put their dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher (most of the time).
  • In the mornings they pick what to wear, dress , brush teeth and hair, and have their school bags and lunch ready to go on time.
  • When we do something as a family (either watching tv, an activity, or going out), we discuss as a team and decide. And no, the kids don’t always get what they want.
  • They tidy up (mostly) after themselves. In our team it’s expected that if you make the mess you tidy it up.
  • We give the boys options such as cleaning up now or later, explaining the pros and cons. So they make the decision when to do something. And when they complain we reiterate that they made the decision.

These are just a few examples of what we’re doing in our house. From our biased point of view, our boys seem to be relishing the independence we give them – within reason of course.

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