Articles - Parenting

When should I let go?

At some stage of your child's development they will inevitably ask to go somewhere by themselves or with a friend. Maybe it is shopping with a friend or to the park or just walking home from school on their own. How do you know that your child is ready for this freedom?

Do not panic!

By this stage you should be well aware of what your child is characterised by and have a good idea as to whether they can be trusted. Hopefully you also know the friend and the friend's parents so have some idea of their family values. Consider the request, acknowledge how it may scare you for whatever reasons and discuss these reasons with your child. Hopefully they will reassure you that they will do the right thing. Discuss possible scenarios and help the child brainstorm good responses. Always encourage and never discourage the child's request for wanting to experiment with freedom.

Never tell them they can go but if they muck up, beware. We want our children to be obedient and responsible because they want to please us and do the right thing and not for fear of any threatened punishment.

Let the child know that you trust them and give them an example of why you believe they can be trusted. A child who believes that you really do trust them is less likely to betray that trust.

Be encouraging and positive. Show how proud you are of your child and again reinforce how much they mean to you and how much you value your relationship with them.

Then let them go and when they return give them positive reinforcement for having been trustworthy.

If the child has not shown they can be trusted then you will need to have an appropriate consequence and let them know that they are obviously not ready yet for such freedom. They will not be allowed to ask again until they have either proved their trustworthiness or for a certain length of time. Again, do not get angry, just state the consequences calmly. Mistakes are opportunities for improvement not hell-raising sins. After discussing the reasons why the child did not behave as expected, you will have a good idea of what heart issue you still need to continue to work on. Children are a work in progress, guide them with love and care as our Heavenly Father guides us.

 

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