In the normal development of children, they move from being happy to be around their parents (including the bathroom) to needing their own personal space. They may shriek if mom or dad enters their bedroom without knocking first or object to sharing a room with a sibling. They like their ‘alone’ time and may even start to keep a diary.

They are beginning to understand the differences between the sexes and are developing a natural modesty part of that latency period prior to puberty. The following tips will help you, as parents, develop some good, healthy guidelines around respecting the privacy of your children and for them to do likewise for you.

Always knock – model this polite behavior to your child. Knock and ask to come in before entering your child’s room. Insist that this be done to your room, also. Explain that a closed door means someone wants privacy. Knocking is the correct way to interrupt.

Time for personal space – let your child organize their room to allow for some personal space even if they share a room with a sibling. Teach both of them what is common area and what is strictly “off limits”.

Respect your child’s personal possessions – never give away toys or clothes without mentioning this to your child first. Resist the temptation to show off your child’s school project to your guests either without asking.

“What’s that smell??” – inform your child that you may be forced to enter their room without permission. If there are rude odors wafting from the room, moldy food could be the culprit that needs to be removed. Or if there is some concern about their safety, then you must be ready to exercise your authority as the parent.

Rooms aren’t the only private places – your child must understand that listening to other people’s personal conversations, opening other people’s mail is not acceptable.

Helping your children understand how to respect their own and other’s privacy will assist them to have good judgment as they grow up. Take advantage of this natural desire for privacy & modesty that are part of their development to teach them that they have control over what is shared or not with others. Teach them to realize that sharing is not necessarily meant for everyone in a public forum like social media, for example. There is such a thing as appropriate and inappropriate sharing with others. They need to know the difference!!

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