Monday, March 9, 2009

Q&A: "As I give my older child more freedoms, how do I deal with younger children wanting the same treatment?"

This is another question that was asked at our January parenting conference that we did not have time to address then. Mark Ratchford, who spoke on the subject of freedoms at the conference, and his wife Susan share their thoughts on this question below:

Freedoms are given in relation to the amount of responsibility the child is ready to handle. In short, freedoms are earned. They are a privilege not a right.

You need to explain to the younger child that one day he/she will have the same freedom once they are ready to handle the responsibility that goes along with the freedom. Be careful not to set a specific age/date for the new freedom. It is tied to each child’s ability to handle the responsibility. What freedoms are given to one child at 5 years may not be given to the next child until 7 years or vice versa.

Remember, delayed gratification is a good thing. It will mean more to the child when it is truly earned and not just given to them because the older sibling has a new freedom. Don’t give in to pleas for freedoms given to the older child by a younger sibling, as this will dilute the impact of the privilege given to the older child. This will also impact negatively the younger sibling’s desire to want to earn the new freedom.

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