I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.
Have your kids asked you for a cell phone yet? Or the expensive pair of running shoes they have to have? Or maybe it’s a car (we’re thankfully not there quite yet)? There’s always something, right? Some other want or some other need so their lives feel fulfilled, or maybe simply so they feel like they can fit in better with their friends.
What about emotional maturity? Are you seeing that yet in your own kids? That one’s often much harder to see since it usually changes so slowly over time, but when my kids are asking for the “next big thing” it often involves a level of emotional maturity within them as well.
After we bought our son a new bike last year, do you know what he wanted to do with it? He wanted to ride it to school! The horror, right? In my defense, he was still young, we do not live that close to his school, there’s a very busy street he would have to cross (with the aide of a crossing guard), and he can be a little spacy and distracted as he’s one of those super creative, always outside of the box thinkers and doers.
So, we made a deal that if he was more focused and more on task over the summer then we’d let him ride his bike to school this school year. We saw this change slowly throughout the summer at home, when we were on vacation, when he was at sport’s camp, when he was with friends, etc. (His increased level of focus might also have been helped by the gluten free diet his doctor put him on in June because of a gluten sensitivity). Either way, he was ready!
This little bit of freedom has been great for his self-esteem and he’s proven to us that we can trust him to get himself to a from school in a safe and undistracted manner, and even in the 100+ degree Texas heat. Plus, an added bonus for me, I don’t need to make time in my schedule for school drop-offs and pick-ups anymore (unless there’s inclement weather), which has been a huge time saver. Win-win for both of us!
Our daughter got a coveted cell phone in middle school, and minus a few bumps and bruises from being dropped and one swimming incident in a public toilet (thankfully it didn’t drown), plus openness and transparency with us regularly checking her phone, this transition hasn’t been as hard as we were originally expecting.
The harder change has been around food and adapting to a gluten free lifestyle as a teenager (again, per her doctor because of a sensitivity). As a parent, I get it. At this age, you really just want to fit in. But, as this is a lifestyle change, fitting in isn’t always possible in this case. It’s definitely much easier at home with gluten-free choices and even eating out as a family has been okay since we can usually check menus online ahead of time. However, going out with friends or eating at a friend’s house can be much more difficult.
Yes, she has already tested the limits here, as all teenagers tend to do. However, she finally realized recently that this change is health related, but it is also trust related as well. In order for us to trust her going out with friends, it first needed to start with her eating gluten-free with them. Why? Because this shows us that she is embracing her individuality and not just going along with the crowd. It shows us that she is making good choices in her life, the ones that are truly best for her, regardless of what those around her are doing.
So, there you have it from my perspective. What are some positive behavior changes you’re looking for from your own children and what will this tell you about their current level of maturity?