Your child is turning eleven and all his friends have Facebook pages. Your child comes to you and says “I want a Facebook page.” Your automatic response is “Sure. You are about to go to middle school and this seems like the right time.” However, I would suggest you take some time to think about these requests in advance. We, as parents, need to make an effort to help our children understand the difference between privileges and rights. Cell phones, Facebook pages, Television time, sporting activities, and the list goes on and on are privileges. Food and housing are rights for children. With the thoughts of privileges and rights in mind, then decide is the child worthy of the privilege requested? Ask yourself if he is keeping his grades up? Is she respecting you? Is there minimal arguing with him? Is she doing chores at home? This list is not inclusive but is a start of the questions you should ask yourself every time these privileges are requested. If not, then they are not deserving of the privileges and the privilege should be withheld. Then, you must set the agenda of what is required to earn the privilege. Also privileges earned are not forever and can be taken away if misbehavior surfaces. One of the biggest privileges in a child’s life is obtaining a driver’s permit. Similar criteria should be required before this privilege is granted. If we start setting the expectations for behavior early, then fewer modifications are needed as they grow up to healthy respectful teens and adults.
Katrina Hood, MD. FAAP
Pediatric & Adolescent Associates