Sunday, February 21, 2010

So When Can Our Kids Do That?

During the first year of our child’s life, we pretty much know what to expect our child to be doing each month: when they should be lifting their head, sitting up, eating solid foods, standing, crawling, walking, and then talking. Each stage is rather well documented.

Now, they may not have lifted their head as soon as the guideline suggested, but they may have lifted it a bit before or soon after and it is nice to have some sort of “guideline.”

With my older child as an example, he talked before he walked and he didn’t walk until he was 18 months old. He was talking as he was crawling around the house – come to think of it that sounds kind of creepy. And I have to admit, he has not stopped talking since.

The next few years are not too much of a mystery as to what our child will do either. There are magazine articles, blog posts, and online essays completely dedicated to the early stages of a child’s life. Then something happens at about age five years old. Not so much is written about that age and up and not so many parents’ are talking about what stage their child is in at that point.

So I would like to know when we should allow our kids to do certain things and have certain items.

When are our kids ready for:

• taking their own shower

• making their own breakfast or sandwich

• packing their own lunch

• choosing their own clothes

• being alone in the house and for how long

• riding their bike alone for how long and how far

• wearing makeup

• having a cell phone

Please share with me when your child or niece or nephew or grandchild was allowed to do these things. When do you think they are ready?

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  1. so, there isn't really a law in California about leaving your kid home alone, but "just so you know" CPS sees 12 years old as a reasonable age for a child to be left home alone.
    As for the other stuff: My daughter started making her own lunches and doing her own laundry at age 9. I would never let her ride her bike anywhere alone until she's about 14. It's just too creepy out there. And no cell phone until she is old enough to buy one herself. There is so much that can go on via cell phone these days that is not healthy for them. If she is somewhere safe there will be a phone there for her to use!

  2. OK, here goes...this has been my rule of thumb and so far it's worked:

    Taking shower - I think my kids were 6 or so when I taught them how to turn the spiggot on/off - aaannddd they always took too long of showers and have to be timed.

    Making breakfast or sandwiches - sandwiches, they could sort of accomplish around age 6, cooked breakfast I waited till about 10. Too scared of them being burned. Claire has made pancakes but with a bit of supervision at cook time.

    Packing lunch - 10 years old for my kids

    Choosing clothes - always, since they were tiny. And if it was too awful, I would very sweetly say to whomever was viewing the outfit "Didn't so and so do a great job of dressing themselves today?" they wouldn't think I did that!

    Being home along - age 10, but depends on the circumstance...are close neighbors at home? Is the child mature/responsible/knows safety rules. Claire comes home alone after school on the days I work but she's only home for an hour till her dad gets home (she's 11). Casey was 10, but she was very mature and responsible and we had lots of neighbors close by.

    Riding bike alone - I let Claire, at age 10, ride to the neighbors 2 blocks (but we have no traffic in our area) away but she has to call upon arrival and departure when headed home.

    Wearing makeup - my house it's age 12. That's how old I was. I took Casey to the Clinique counter for her 12th bday and had them make her up with makeup appropriate for that age. I will do the same for Claire. Might as well have them start learning how to apply it correctly and with a company that goes for a more natural look.
    Then at 16 I took Casey to Stila and we did it all again - FUN (I buy the makeup they used as their gift).

    Cell Phone - My two older kids got them at age 16, when driving, for my benefit, not theirs! However, if I worked alot and had kids all over the place after school and we needed to be able to communicate I would likely buy a simple phone only to be used for after school events/ functions for a younger child.

    This is just the way I've done it. Curious to hear any other opinions! ~Suzy

  3. ooh, i love Suzy's input! I'm printing her timelines out! :) After reading your blog entry Sharon, I was thinking... Ooh, someone tell me the answers!!!

    One thing my hubby and I stand strongly on- NO TV or computers in the kid's bedrooms.

    Everything else... I had no idea, til I read Suzy's input. Thanks Sharon! (and Suzy!)

    btw, my son was the same. Walked at 18months, was talking at 6months! So strange! Such a relief when he started walking! :)

  4. Hi Sharon–your post got me thinking about MY answers-below are my responses; I have one daughter who just turned 11.

    Taking their own shower–can’t recall when that started – too far back for my memory.

    Making their own breakfast or sandwich or lunch–it dawned on me sometime during 3rd grade that my daughter had the ability to make her own lunch - so I started having her do that. I do check periodically and let her choose what type of things she wants to include. She does not like to make sandwiches so she puts in burritos or those lean pockets. My rule is that the lunch includes at least one fruit and one vegetable. If either of those items come home in the lunchbag not eaten (which they often do), then she has to eat them either for an after-school snack or as part of her dinner. (Let’s hope she never thinks of tossing them while at school) As for making her own breakfast, that started about the same time, with oversight. Recently she has been making pancakes on the weekends and starting to use the stove more.
    Choosing their own clothes–As long as I can remember my daughter has had her own sense of style and has wanted to choose her own clothes. It used to work for me to give her two options or sometimes she would let me choose an outfit for her (because you know I have MY OWN sense of style that of course I want to share with her). Lately, I don’t get to choose, I can no longer predict what to buy for her at the store due to her emerging and shifting tastes, not to mention that lately her sense of style has become less charming to me. But, this is not the hill I choose to die on. I try hard to just let her keep working on figuring out who she is via her creative combinations.

  5. Being alone in the house and for how long–After reading the response above from Suzy, I thought for the first time “wow, maybe my daughter is actually old enough to stay alone for a short time – we could give this a try”. Yesterday turned out to be one of those busy days during which I could not figure out how to squeeze in a trip to the gym between work, carpool etc. So I asked my daughter if she wanted to stay home alone and do her homework after school while I went out for a walk in the neighborhood. She was totally READY and even excited to do this (it was my husband who was quite reluctant). We locked the doors, turned on the alarm (overkill perhaps but made me feel better) and I took my cell phone with me while I walked for an hour. Again, my husband is uncomfortable with this happening regularly and I will need to work with him on it, but my daughter loved it, I think the timing is right and I believe it gave her a good feeling of responsibility.

    Riding their bike alone for how long and how far–Oh my, not ready for this one yet. Seems too scary and dangerous. Which is so incredibly interesting given that I rode my bike all over town when I was 11–all kids did. Not sure when I will be ready for this–or to move beyond letting her ride to a nearby neighbor’s home with an arrival phonecall.

    Wearing makeup–My used-to-be-a-tomboy daughter has become terribly girly and VERY interested in make-up. She would like nothing more than a full makeover at the MAC counter. So far, I let her try little bits here and there of my makeup – especially my lip gloss. Then, just last weekend she asked “mom, can I try using all of your make-up?” What the heck, we weren’t going anywhere so I said “sure”- and reminded her to go easy. Surprisingly, she kept it very subdued and it looked good. I like Suzy’s idea of waiting a little longer and taking her to somewhere like the Clinique counter and purchasing stuff for her then. I will use that idea. By the way, piercing ears at my house is allowed at 13.

    Having a cell phone- During the summers, my daughter has always spent time with her grandparents – and also aunts/uncles by herself for a few days at a time – in the LA area about 2 hours away, After her beloved grandma passed away two years ago she became a little reluctant about going. The thing that made her feel comfortable about going again was taking a cell phone with her so she could text or call us any time of day or night if she got scared. We purchased a Cricket phone /plan where you simply pay for the days you want to use it. We would pay for a couple of days of use on it only when WE wanted her to have the phone. Recently, it seemed easier to add her to our plan. Still, she only uses her phone when WE want her to have it and think it makes sense. That usually ends up being about once a month or even less. I personally think this is a good way to ease into the cell phone thing. The unexpected pleasure has been the sweet, loving text messages she sends to us when she is away from us with the phone. This has made me think that perhaps at this difficult “tween” age it may actually be a good way for girls to communicate with parents -- via text.

    Well, that’s my two cents.Thanks for starting the conversation Sharon.