Privilege Goes With Responsibility
Jesus told a parable about a landowner who returned to find two stewards who had been responsible and one that hadn't been. The landowner said to the responsible stewards, "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." Jesus was teaching his disciples that those who are responsible will receive more.
This principle that privilege and responsibility go together is the primary way that parents can discipline their teens. Too often parents give privileges to teens who aren't responsible enough to handle them. Just because a child is fourteen years old doesn't mean that he is mature enough to go to a friend's house without supervision. Don't give privileges based on age, use responsibility as a guide instead.
One mom was asked by her thirteen-year-old daughter, "How old do I have to be before I can babysit?"
Mom was wise enough to respond, "The answer doesn't have to do with age. It has to do with responsibility."
Her daughter continued, "How will you know when I'm responsible enough?"
"I'll see signs of responsibility at home. I can tell if you are responsible by how you take care of your room and what kind of choices you make when I'm not around."
Parents sometimes give privileges to children who aren't responsible enough to handle them. Privileges are things like being home alone, having an email account, carrying a cell phone, going to the mall with friends, or being able to stay up later.
Children want privileges and often pressure their parents to give them. You can use privileges to teach responsibility. "Before I can give you access to the Internet, I have to see that you can take a stand for righteousness, be honest under pressure, and do the right thing when no one is watching." Or, "I'd like to allow you to stay up later but it means that you have to demonstrate a good attitude during the day. I'm not sure we're there yet."
Responsibility can be demonstrated in children in many ways and honor is at the heart of it. Cleaning up after a snack, taking initiative to help clear the table, being honest in a difficult situation, responding to correction without blaming an offense on someone else, and handling disappointment with a good attitude are all ways that children can demonstrate responsibility.
This tip comes from the book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.