Sometimes it can be hard to define a teenager. They have the maturity of a full adult one day and the next they are acting like overgrown toddlers. So, even though they are classified as teenagers, should we still consider teens under 18 to be kids? In different countries they have rights for different ages
Sometimes it can be hard to define a teenager. They have the maturity of a full adult one day and the next they are acting like overgrown toddlers. So, even though they are classified as teenagers, should we still consider teens under 18 to be kids?
In different countries they have rights for different ages as kids grow up. For example, when a child reaches the age of 5 in Canada, they have the right to attend Kindergarten in the year that they turn 5. So, if your child turns 5 anytime during the year of 2019, they would then be enrolled in Kindergarten in September when the school year starts.
At the age of 12, a child is able to choose with which parent they would like to live with if the parents are separated. The courts normally respect the wishes of the child in these cases, unless there is evidence that a parent is unable to care for the child.
Also, when a child turns 12, they are allowed to go hunting as long as they are with an adult. They are required to take a hunting course that is subject to each province. To use a firearm, they also need to obtain a minor’s license by completing and passing the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.
For kids that are wanting to work to make money, 14 years old is the most common age that they are allowed to work at a job that is more than something like delivering newspapers (which most provinces in Canada will allow with consent from parents at the age of 12). There are still restrictions for those under 16 that only allows them to work for a few hours a day on school days, and not during school hours. They are also not allowed to work between the hours of 11pm to 6am or work at a job that may be a risk to their safety or health. The main goal is to be sure that a youth’s education is not limited or hindered by the job.
For most of Canada a youth must be 16 to take the learner’s permit for driving. This is where they will take a written test about rules and regulations about driving. Once they have obtained a learner’s permit, they are then able to learn to drive under the instruction of an adult who has had a class 5 driver’s license for a minimum of 3 years.
Until a youth reaches the age of 18, they are considered a juvenile and are protected under Child Rights Laws in Canada. This includes that they cannot be named if they are convicted of an offense. They are also guaranteed to be presumed innocent, be heard, and have a fair trail before they are convicted. However, if found guilty they are not charged under the Criminal Code of Canada but under the Youth Justice Court for 12 – 17 years of age, and under 12, children are not deemed to be criminally responsible and consequences are decided by the Child and Family Services Act.
All teenagers between 12 – 17 years old are still considered children and are protected in Canada. They are allowed more responsibilities and freedoms, such as getting a job or learning to drive, however, they are still considered not able to fully take care of themselves. Therefore, until they reach 18, they are truly still just kids leaning how life works. That doesn’t mean that you must hold their hand till they are 17, but as the get older and mature, you slowly let go and guide them. That way when they do reach 18, they can become an independent adult who is able to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, they don’t just magically wake up on their 18th birthday able to be an adult, they grow into it through the guidance of the adults in their life.
If your kids are young, they can still start to learn responsibilities. You can do that by getting them to do age appropriate chores around the house. This helps foster independence, gives them the feeling of accomplishment and that they are needed within the family. It also helps them to build character and lessen feelings of entitlement that most children seem to express. Chores help children grow into productive members of society.
It can be hard at first to let your little ones do chores, but as you teach them and let them do it, they will learn how. If you practice the GRR (gradual release of responsibility, you can read about it in this book Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility, 2nd Edition ) they will learn quickly. For older kids it it may be easier to have a chore chart or checklist to help them remember what they need to do. You can also have a chore jar that has age appropriate chores in it and depending on the age, would determine how many they have to pull out of the jar (for smaller kids who can’t read, use pictures). Here are some things that you can have your child do that is age appropriate:
Ages 2 – 3
Yes, even your little people can help around the house and it will not hurt them. It is actually great for them to learn responsibility at a young age. Things like picking up blankets, putting toys away, booking books away, taking their garbage to the trash, folding wash cloths and sorting socks, sticking their dirty clothes in the hamper, wiping things that are easy to reach (like the bottom cupboard doors or fridge), carry their dishes to the kitchen.
Ages 4 – 5
As kids grow older, they are able to do more things. If you have not gotten your kids to do things on their own yet, this is an important time to do so. They will be starting pre-k or kindergarten and cleaning up after themselves will be necessary. It will be easier on them (and you) if they have already started learning the responsibility of cleaning up after one’s self. At this age kids are able to make their bed, feed pets, pick up toys, water plants, put dishes away that they can reach, make easy snacks, wipe things that they can reach easily (the table, doorknobs, help clean the bathroom), clean their room, help fold bigger laundry items and put own laundry away.
Ages 6 – 7
School helps kids become more independent and are able to do more. They are also bigger and able to handle things that take a bit more work. They can sweep and mop floors, gather garbage cans and empty them, rake leaves, help make meals, organize things like shoes or Tupperware cupboards, empty the dishwasher, wash dishes by hand when necessary, and even cut or peel fruits and vegetables.
Ages 8 – 9
At this age kids are in grades 3 – 4. They are coming out of the little kid stage and entering the older kid stage. At this age they are starting to become their own person more and wanting more independence. You may see more attitude as they push boundaries as they try to spread their wings a little. With that also comes with more ability to take on more responsibilities. Things like doing their own laundry (washing, drying, folding, hanging up, putting away), walking dogs, taking out the garbage and taking to the curb on garbage days, sweeping outside, cleaning the bathroom on their own, make things like scrambled eggs or cookies, change lightbulbs, filling and emptying the dishwasher, washing pots, and help with groceries.
Ages 10 – 11
Depending on where you live, at this age your kids are either in the highest grade at their elementary school or have moved on to middle school (aka junior high). They are becoming more independent and most likely want to hang out with their friends a lot. They may also be starting to have more homework once in awhile too. However, that does not mean they get to skip out on chores. It is still important for them to learn that life involves work and play. Vacuuming is a good chore to add as they should be big enough to handle a vacuum, helping out cleaning out places like the garage or storage rooms, making simple meals (like mac and cheese, soup, French toast etc.), clean up the kitchen (including wiping down counters and cupboard doors), and even help make a grocery list.
At this point you will see that your kids are definitely becoming more responsible and mature. They are no longer little kids or even big kids. The preteen and teen years are full of adventure as you navigate hormones and their social life. If you haven’t started chores with them yet, it really isn’t too late at any stage to get them started learning what it takes to run a home. At this age they can start appreciated all that goes into making and up-keeping a home. You are doing them a disservice if you don’t allow them to learn the ins and outs of maintaining a home. At this age they are able to mow the grass, shovel snow, clean up a broken dish, iron clothes, watch younger siblings, wash windows, cook meals and bake other items, learn simple home repairs, help grocery shop, learn the proper way to paint walls, clean the inside and outside of a vehicle, wipe down furniture, change bedding, and wash walls.
Keep in mind if some of these suggestions may seem shocking at first for the age that you can’t expect a child (or teen) to know how to do these things when they are presented with the chore at first. This is why it is important to use the gradual release of responsibility method. You will show them how to do it, then you will do it together, then they can do it on their own with supervision and finally when you feel that they are able to do it – on their own. And of course as you know your kids best, be sure that you are choosing things that they are capable of. It takes time and patience to raise up a child that turns into a responsible adult. Some days it may be hard to see them still as kids when they are nearing adulthood, but just remember that they still need guidance, teaching and nurturing, it will just look different than it did when they were younger.
In conclusion, yes, teenagers are still children in some ways, but they should and do have more responsibilities and opportunities than that of a younger child. Be sure to let them know that you are still there walking beside them even if you may no longer be holding their hand.