There are a lot of similarities between toddlers and teenagers, they both love drama! I remember one time I brought my daughter to the local library and her eyes opened wide at the sight of a huge stuffed animal on the floor, large enough for children to climb on. In addition, there was a selection of stuffed animals, some in a large box, others scattered around the floor. She was so excited as I unbuckled her from her stroller and placed her tiny feet on the carpet. She ran around, gathering all the stuffed animals she could hold and climbed onto the large one, locking her legs around its neck and hugging the toys close to her. Then a child tried to approach her . . .
My little princess changed before my eyes as she glared at the intruder and announced with great vibrato, M I N E ! ! ! !
What she didn’t realize was that if she intended to sit there on the toy for an hour, holding onto the stuffed animals locked in her arms, she was not going to have much fun on this day in the library. If she had simply shared the toys with the other child, this day would have been so much more enjoyable for her. But this freedom at the library was new to her and you can’t talk to a two year old when they are in the middle of a tantrum. So I picked her up, put her back in her stroller and buckled her in. It may have taken a few trips to the library before she realized that as long as she conducted herself appropriately, she would be given a limited amount of freedom. But if she decided to push those boundaries and see how far she could get before I would place her back in the stroller, she ultimately ended up losing her freedom.
Teenagers are a lot like that. They are growing up and if they have shown that they can handle themselves appropriately in a situation, they deserve to be rewarded with a little more freedom. But if they abuse the privilege, then those boundaries need to be reigned in again. Age appropriate freedom is a wonderful thing; too much freedom is dangerous and too little is stifling. It is important to always leave something, a carrot if you will, dangling ahead of them that they can earn. Don’t give them all the freedom by the time they are twelve and then they want more when they are thirteen but there’s no more to give. Think ahead. There really is something to be said for “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy