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Choosing Age Appropriate Privileges for Kids
You have so much power at the very initial stage of offering choices to your kids…That moment is when you can either choose to set the bar very high or at a reasonable level!
In my last article, Is Bribing a Good Way to Motivate Your Kids?, I talked about how giving your kids privileges they can earn will not only empower but motivate them.
In this article we’ll discuss how to choose age appropriate privileges so they are relevant and doable for your child.
The child’s needs and tastes are an important part of what he or she will choose to work toward, but don’t forget the role you can play as a parent in offering choices and setting important limits on what is available and what is not.
Here are just a few examples of age appropriate options for privileges that are free or inexpensive.
Privileges for kids ages 3-5:
- Play time with a toy they already own
- Access to a special game
- A play date with a friend
- A trip to the park
- A (healthy) sweet treat for dessert
- Reading three books instead of two with Mommy or Daddy at bedtime
- A trip to the library
- Riding their tricycle or bike
- Watching a favorite DVD
- Sing-along videos
- Playing a game with a parent
- Coloring or doing some form of handcraft with you (like finger painting)
- Playing in a puddle of mud (really!)
- Playing ball or chase with you
- Watering the house plants with you: You’d be surprised at how much young kids enjoy being involved in certain chores and how much fun it is for them.
Privileges for kids ages 5-7:
In addition to the list above, which you can modify according to your child’s age, you can involve your kid in daily household chores. I was shocked the first time I realized just how much my friend’s seven-year-old LOVED being given the responsibility to try to fold his own tee shirts and help to put away his laundry. Your attitude toward “chores” will dictate or kids’ impression of how much “fun” they can be!
Let your kids help with gardening (even weeding), but limit the work appropriate to their age. Supervision and teamwork are key here.
The list also includes more age-appropriate games, play dates, and family playtime.
Get your child involved in helping out with errands. Some kids consider it a privilege to get to go shopping with their parents.
Obviously, your decision about implementing some of these options depends on your child. Keep in mind that what you may find to be a chore may just be a treat to a seven-year-old.
Privileges for kids ages 7-9:
In addition to the above list, you can also use all kinds of games and toys that they already own. Some children have too many toys. Others don’t care to play with all their toys all the time. At this age, the trick is to motivate your kid with a toy he or she already owns instead of spending money on new toys. The best way to do this is to limit access to the child’s toys. At this age, children often want what they can’t have. Use this understanding to your advantage. As soon as your kid sees you remove several toys and put them in a box labeled “To Be Used Later,” he’ll want them back immediately! Use each toy as a motivator: the kid can earn a toy from the box. What happens is that toys end up going into rotation, which helps them last longer. Your kid will be motivated to earn a toy you didn’t have to buy, and you’ll successfully motivate your kid with a reasonable privilege. Remember, your approach needs to be positive, enticing, and rewarding, NOT punitive.
Privileges for kids 9-11:
- Spending time with friends
- Going to a party
- Talking to a friend on the phone for a while
- Rearranging his or her room
- Making handcrafted decorations for his or her room
- Playing sports
- Game night with the family
- Hanging out at the mall or a favorite park with friends
- Making their own treats, such as a fruit smoothie
- Baking with you
- Renting a DVD or game
- Many parents are surprised by the next suggestion until they try it: Helping you out when you’re doing repair work or projects around the house. This reward can be tricky, however. How much of an incentive this may be for the child at this age depends on how much responsibility you are willing to give him or her, as well as your attitude and approach. When done correctly, children may see projects around the house as a desirable privilege. Remember safety and supervision are essential.
Privileges for kids ages 11-13:
In addition to a modified version of the above list, privileges may include:
- More age-appropriate freedom
- A sleepover with friends at your home
- Watching a movie, and sometime…
- Just being left alone
At this age, especially if your kid has smaller siblings, “alone time” is very rewarding. Keep in mind that it is your child’s right to be left alone by siblings at times, earning additional freedom in the form of solitude can be an option for a reward.
In my next article, we’ll finish the discussion on privileges for your kids.
This is an excerpt from my book: “Create Happy Kids”
Dr. Sherkat is a parent strategist who is available to do Parent Education Workshops, either Private or PTA Sponsored Classes.
Contact her at 425-772-6698.