Teaching Kids about Privacy

Written by Elizabeth Pantley

Does your child want a lock installed on his bedroom door? If so, find out first if he's responsible enough to follow house rules.teaching kids about privacy

My child complains that he doesn't get any privacy. He doesn't want us to walk into his room any time we want to and has even asked for a lock on his door.

As children grow, it's normal for them to feel a need for a private space. Your child should earn his right to privacy, though, with a demonstration of trustworthiness and responsibility.
More Stories by Elizabeth Pantley:
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Traveling with Kids
Teaching Kids Respect
Listen With Your Heart
Set clear rules: Everyone in the family should ask before going into another's dresser drawers, or knock to enter each other's rooms. Children, however, must be taught to ask, "Who is it?" and if the answer is Mom or Dad, they need to say, "Come in." Don't allow your child to say, "I'm busy." You are knocking as a courtesy, not to gain permission to enter. (In reverse, however, they are asking to gain permission to enter a parent's room.)
Help them grow up: Many children perceive their bedroom as the only part of the house that is truly theirs and use it as a way to assert their independence. If your child is responsible, give him more control over his bedroom and a clear set of rules to go with it. They should cover housekeeping, design issues (how you feel about posters on the wall, etc.), food in the room and anything else you deem essential.
Let him know that he can earn privacy by showing that he is responsible enough to follow the rules. If he violates your house rules, then let him know the door must remain open until he re-earns his privacy privileges. If he continues to break the rules, simply remove the door from the hinges, store it in the garage, and set a time frame for the following of rules that will result in the reinstallment of the door.
Is he hiding something? If so, his behavior will appear secretive in other ways, too. Watch for whispered phone calls, or answering questions about what he's up to in vague, disjointed ways. It's also possible that your child has discovered masturbation. To get the information you need, ask direct questions.
If you talk to him and aren't satisfied with the answers you get, it's time to seek the help of a family counselor or other professional.

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(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley)

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