OK. I'm asking for help here. If anyone reads this and is interested, I've borrowed a concept/idea from somewhere, and if I find out where I will be glad to give credit, but here's the idea:
Birthday boxes: a box that a child opens each year. The box contains a list of privileges and responsibilities for that year or age. For instance, when can a child have a cell phone? a date? spend the night with a friend?
when should a child - empty the dishwasher? make their own bed? be responsible for their own laundry?
the idea is a good one and one that bears examination. i've ordered some books on development so i'll be an expert soon, but until then...i'd love the input of parents as to the answers to these and other things that might go in the boxes.
as far as sibling rivalry goes, this is a great concept. as far as the answer to that question your child asks at just the wrong time in just the wrong company, this will be helpful.
with siblings, the eldest is the one who "shovels the path" and then the others are coming up quickly behind and getting the benefit of the plowed road without the work, metaphorically. so when you decide that your 8 year old can spend the night with a friend but the friend has a 6 year old who is a friend of your 6 year old, it's pretty easy and tempting to let your 6 year old spend the night, too, right? but is that fair? ok, nothing is fair, but the birthday box idea puts down on paper these sticky questions and adds concrete to the ideas we have but so easily dismiss in the heat of the moment.
so...what can kids do at various ages? it's easy up to 5 years or so. but when do they get a cell phone, ipod, computer...? you might want to put "electronic/digital media device of current technological significance and popularity" to cover for the fact that my parents wouldn't have thought to put an ipod in my 48 year birthday box! you get my meaning. things are moving too fast to put the specifics down for certain things, but the basics will apply forever - spending the night, going to a movie, going on a date...
help! i'd love your comments.