Thursday, January 02, 2014

Easy enough for a 6 year-old to do it?

It's been interesting teaching a 6 year old about her property rights.  Perhaps I make it harder than it really is, since kids seem to automatically understand the concept of "mine".  

I always remind my daughter that her stuff is hers, but since we all have to live in this space together, she needs to respect the rest of us too by keeping her stuff under control.  And, until she is willing to do her own laundry and put all her clean clothes away, vacuum her floor, and feed and clean up after her turtle, that includes keeping her room neat enough I can walk through it without injury.

 And I tell her she controls how others use her stuff, too.  She is never forced to "share", but is free to do so if she wants, and is reminded that not sharing goes both ways.

Which leads to interesting circumstances, especially where one neighborhood collectivist-in-training is concerned.  He came to the door with his (nice, polite, and enjoyable) sister a few days ago and decided to claim a candy bar he saw.  His justification: "But I want it!"  He didn't get it.  He has also gotten chased out of the yard (by me) for refusing to respect my daughter's property and then becoming belligerent when called on it.  

He is also the subject of lessons in self defense I have been giving my daughter: "Don't hit him for calling you names, only to stop him from hitting or pushing you or someone else."

I don't want my daughter growing up to think it's OK to violate the property of others, nor to excuse those who claim a "right" to violate hers.  She'll have to decide for herself someday where to draw her line in the sand.  But, as of now, I stand behind her decisions regarding defending her own property, I make sure she respects the property of others, and I do my best to respect her property and admit when I overstep my bounds.

It actually works pretty well.  Now, if she would just clean and feed her turtle...



  1. It took me a lot of years to discover I learned as much or more from kids than they learned from me.

    Sounds as if you're doing find as a Dad, Kent. Keep up the good work. She'll soon have you educated -- perhaps even award you a degree of sorts.


  2. I often say that morality's a simple enough subject that most ten-year-olds understand it instinctively. Don't start fights, don't take what isn't yours, keep your word. That's it.

    Articulating *why* a person should follow those rules is a little harder, but they can all be derived from the principle of self-ownership and the attendant realisation that if I have rights based on that principle, you must have the same rights too.

    Unfortunately we don't usually teach this to kids in any formal sense, which is all the opening a patient progressive needs.

    However, I seem to be preaching to the choir again...

  3. Awesome, exactly how I deal with the same issue with my son.
    Kids are pretty bright, if you give reasonably sound reasons for this or that, are consistent in your application. You can help make good people.