Introducing Responsibility at Appropriate Ages
As a parent, one of the most daunting tasks is preparing your child to be an adult. This requires a forward-thinking attitude, confidence, and an ability to trust and support your kids without doing so in a way that earns you that dreaded “helicopter parent” label.
Here are a few common responsibilities that children are given as well as a suggested time and manner in which to introduce them.
Getting Their First Phone
Smartphones are part of the modern lifestyle. They help with everything from receiving messages to keeping track of the time, the weather, and even your health. Tech titan Bill Gates waited until his kids were 14 years old to get their first smartphones. Even so, in 2016, the average age that a kid got their first smartphone was 10.3 years old.
Why the discrepancy? Because the primary factor behind when to give your child a smartphone doesn’t have to do with age. It revolves around maturity. This can be tough, as denying your child their phone can be difficult when all of their friends already have one.
Nevertheless, it’s important to consider if your child is responsible and trustworthy enough to have full access to the internet, text messaging, and all of the tools that come with a fully-operational phone. If you feel this isn’t the case, you don’t necessarily have to deny them any phone at all. There are kid-friendly phones and apps available that enable you to introduce your child to a smartphone without giving them critical things like unfettered internet or social media access.
Handling Their Finances
The way that you handle money can make or break your lifestyle. As such, it’s an essential part of preparing a child for their future.
Nevertheless, you don’t want to simply hand over the user ID and password for your online bank portal or your E*TRADE account and then leave your kids to figure things out in real-time. It’s important to introduce money concepts slowly, starting at a young age.
For instance, when your kids are in elementary and middle school, you can begin giving them small jobs that they can use to earn an allowance. This helps them begin to understand concepts like bringing in an income as well as saving and spending their money. If you would like to teach your child a higher degree of responsibility with their money, there are debit cards made specifically for kids that can receive regular allowance, allow you to give bonuses for extra chores, help them to save up for specific items, and more.
Once your child is in high school, you can increase the stakes over time. For instance, you can:
- Help them establish their budget as their income and expenses increase.
- Open up a credit card with your child as an authorized user before they turn 18 so that they can learn to handle credit with you by their side.
- Explain to them how to set aside cash for taxes and save up money for a car or college.
Finances are best introduced by slowly increasing your child’s involvement and responsibilities throughout their young lives. This way, they can be more prepared for adult experiences like getting their first job.
Landing Their First Job
Most Americans agree that a child is ready for their first job around 15 to 16 years old. Much like a smartphone, though, you should consider your child’s maturity level, as well as their current time commitments and work load.
It is a parent’s duty to shepherd their child into their first job with support and advice. This will allow them to handle a myriad of different responsibilities, from showing up on time to being a team player, managing work-life balance, and maintaining commitments.
Being Responsible for Your Child’s Responsibilities
Responsibilities are a critical part of the maturation process — for adults and children alike. Part of your parenting journey revolves around the ability to take ownership over the job of introducing responsibilities to your children at the right ages.
So make a list of responsibilities, like those listed above, that you want to teach your child. Then consider when each one should be introduced, so that you’re ready to handle each item when the time comes.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn