“You’re not the boss of me!”
Kids have been saying this for at least a few generations, and it’s one of the harsh realities of being little that one doesn’t get to control most aspects of one’s life. It’s frustrating and confusing to have a healthy dose of free will, but not the experience or knowledge needed to make safe, informed decisions. It’s kind of part of our job as grown-ups to take the lead.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t hand over the reigns from time to time and let our kids make the call. In fact, allowing a little thinker to be the boss once in a while can have big benefits:
- It teaches them to think critically. They have to weigh, evaluate, and compare options. It also encourages them to consider a variety of viewpoints.
- It gives them a sense of consequence and responsibility. They learn that actions have reactions, and that decisions affect more than just their own lives.
- It encourages collaboration. Being in charge isn’t easy, and often requires input and help from others.
- It’s empowering. They may not have the know-how to make all major decisions, but they are intelligent, thinking beings, and their opinions do matter.
- It fosters leadership skills, and gives shy children space to come out of their shell a little.
There are lots of opportunities to give your child the lead. They can be as simple as:
- Letting them choose what’s for dinner.
- Asking them where the next family vacation might be.
- Having them organize family game night, or outdoor play.
- Making them the designated storyteller at reading time.
- Putting them in charge of a craft project.
However you choose to let your child “be the boss” for a bit, make sure you ask them to explain their decisions. Did they consider all kinds of options? Did they listen to the suggestions and opinions of others? What could they do in case of disagreement or conflict? Help them to understand that good leadership, like many things, hinges on good thinking.