My daughter, 12, has started to ask me to drop her at our local shopping centre so she can hang out there and go shopping with her friends. I feel uncomfortable about this but I know I can’t keep saying ‘no’ to her. How do I know when to start to loosen the apron strings?

Parenting is about raising young people to be independent, responsible, connected young adults. Our role as parents is to make our role redundant – not so we are not wanted, but eventually not needed. Parents are required to have boundaries to support each person to grow into their independent and responsible self, however these boundaries over time will need to be expanded with an offering of increased independence. The question on most parents’ mind is when and what age do we do this?

Generally speaking, this is not a decision based on age. Rather, it’s based on behaviour choices. If our young people are bought to an understanding that true respect will be earned based on their own choices over time and, thus, when a parent feels that their child is likely to feel equipped to respond to what life presents and be likely to make responsible, safe decisions in consideration and respect of all people equally, then (and only then) are they likely to expand their boundaries.

Thus, the answer to ‘When do I say yes to my child’s request?’ is based more so on when they have shown you consistently that they are going to make responsible choices that are in consideration of all people equally.

I feel like I repeat myself all the time – make your bed, brush your teeth etc. How do I get through to my kids and not sound like a broken record, because it can be so tiring?

Visual schedules are a great way to support our children to have an understanding of particular routines etc. It is often we have the same jobs that we do over and over again throughout our daily, weekly, monthly routines. Routines are simply the repetition of a series of actions at a given moment. To support people to come to the same understanding around each routine, it can be very effective to provide this in a visual step-by-step guide.

Visual schedules can be supportive if they include both words and pictures. Posters work well. An example of visual schedule supporting your young child to navigate the multiple steps of getting ready for school in the morning might list which uniform pieces they have to wear, that they have to brush their teeth and hair etc. Any time you feel you are repeating the same steps over and over, my first recommendation would be to provide a visual schedule.

Tanya Curtis

Tanya Curtis  

Tanya founded Fabic (Functional Assessment & Behavioural Interventions Clinic) in 2006 with a vision to support people to understand and change unwanted behaviours. Tanya is an author, writes and presents behaviour specialist DVDs, and has developed online behaviour support programs // www.fabic.com.au