Important things to think about when deciding whether your child is ready, old enough, or big enough to do a chore, be responsible, or have a privilege.
You should make your own decision about when your children are ready based on what you see in them. No one knows your children better than you do.
Saying, “when you get bigger” or “when you are older” can be confusing to children. They are not sure “how big” or “how old” or how long they will need to wait. It is helpful for children to know what they need to know and be able to do. For example, “when you show me you always remember to look both ways when we cross the street together” (being ready to cross street to a friends hous) or “when you wake up on time for school every morning” (being ready for a later bedtime).
Be ready yourself. Sometimes it is hard to be ready for children to grow up. It is easy to miss the signs (or ignore the signs) and keep “babying” them and not expecting enough go them.
Be sure you are:
watching for the signs that they are ready,
getting out of their way – giving them a chance to do things on their own,
supporting their success – teaching them how to do things, and
providing a safety net – backing up and giving more time and teaching if necessary.
Decisions about what your child can do or not do – chores or privileges – should be based on more than just age. Consider all of these things:
Age. Is my child around the age that many children do this?
Emotions. Does my child control her emotions pretty well? Is she over the top – out of control – when she is angry or frustrated? Is she totally distracted when she is excited?
Decision-making. What is my child like as a decision-maker. Does he decide to do the right thing and the safe thing most of the time – even if his friends are pulling him in a different direction?
Remember that every child is different, even those in the same family. What one 6-year-old is ready for another may not be. And, that goes for teens too. One 16-year-old may be ready for more independence than another one is. Treat every child as an individual case.