Today we are going to talk about asking permission. What does asking permission have to do with self control? It starts at a very young age. When a child wants a toy or crayons that someone else is using or has in their possession, the first thing that pops in their head is to grab it and take it for themselves. Then as they get older they may use things that belong to their siblings or friends without asking. As teens this may evolve into going out or to places without clearing it first with their parents. As adults we may do things because we feel we have the right to do so (because we are adults).
What would happen if as a 5 year old we just grabbed the markers out of the hand of another child? Is it safe or fair? Will that solution work? Of course not, we expect that we would learn to ask nicely without grabbing or yelling. So we say “Excuse me, may I use that marker when you are done?” As we get older We can begin to learn about respecting the rights of others and their property. Even as pre-teens we learn that it is the respectful thing to ask for permission from our siblings and friends if we want to use their video game, or other possession. Then we return it when we say we will. This begins to build trust and respect for each other.
As we get older and have more freedom though we want to remember that just because we have the right to do something does not mean that it is the respectful thing to do. Asking for permission for things that we want and need, instead of just taking them, helps to build trust and respect. If as a teen you are spending the evening at a friends house and they decide to go visit another persons house, it builds trust and respect if we call and ask permission from our parents. Why should we do this? Using our empathy imagine how mom and dad would feel if they called for you and you were not where you said you would be. They would first be very frightened and then upset and then they would begin to not trust you for your word. A simple phone call would resolve all of that and create a better relationship with your parents.
Having said that about our kids it is time for us as parents to examine how we treat them. If we are going out do we let others know where we are going and what time we expect to return. If this is not a practice we have, we cannot expect our children to do any different. In fact they are going to believe that being a grown up means you can do what you want, when you want, without telling anyone. Taking this simple step of – self control – has far reaching impact on our relationships with our family and friends.