- Kids today are the most watched over generation as parents feel the need to constantly monitor them and their use of technology
- Overstepping the mark and invading your kids’ privacy undermines your relationship
- Parents should knock before entering their kid’s room to demonstrate respect
- Physical privacy helps children develop their sense of self, creativity and ways of thinking
- From ages 6-11 you may find your child wanting more privacy
Have you ever stood outside your child’s bedroom door and wondered if it’s time you started knocking? Perhaps you’ve never even considered it, as your usual style is just to barge right on in.
In this article, we will explore the idea that parents should knock before entering, and what needs children have for privacy as they grow physically, but also develop their own sense of self.
Does society value children’s privacy?
It used to be commonplace that you trusted your child until they gave you a reason not to. But, today, our children are considered to be far less safe in their homes than they used to be.
Why is that? Well the invasion of technology means that children can be “ at risk from online predators , pedophiles, cyberbullies, and other online dangers.” Even in their own homes.
And so today, “good parents” surveil, monitor and safeguard their children against these threats. “Thus, when children’s physical or emotional safety is at stake , whatever interest in privacy they may have is outweighed by society’s interest in their protection.” It has even been said that “today’s children are “the most watched over generation in memory ``''.
What is the cost of this?
The relationship between a child’s privacy and respect
“Ample research demonstrates children’s resentment of “snooping,” and other such behaviours that are seen to invade their privacy. A child knows when they aren’t trusted - and it’s not a good feeling. While you may think you are doing what is best for them, it may be that you are damaging your relationship with them by doing so.
Just because your child wants privacy doesn’t mean they have something to hide. Desiring privacy is a normal part of development.
Consider yourself. Do you prefer your children to knock before coming into your bedroom or bathroom? This isn’t because you are up to “no good” behind that closed door. It’s simply because you have a need for privacy and would like it respected.
Parents should knock before entering a child’s room because this is the most practical way to demonstrate your respect for their privacy.
Why privacy is important for children
Children are not born able to distinguish themselves from others. It’s why babies do not understand that they are separate from their mother. And it’s why toddlers think that everybody knows everything about them .
The sense of self is something that develops slowly over time as children grow and mature. “ Children's need for privacy is something very much linked to the development of this sense of self as separate from others.”
In the lead-up to and during the teenage years, children are working out what kind of people they are . They are confronting new challenges, perhaps discovering new interests, and developing new thinking skills. Around kindergarten age, they start to realise they can have thoughts that no one else knows about .
Physical privacy is a necessity when they are developing their individuality, independence and even more creative aspects of their personality. These physical privacy “needs include a space in the home that belongs to them and that is respected by both parents and siblings.”
Individual privacy is a core component of relationships - whether that be a spousal relationship or parent-child relationship. It has been said that without privacy “there can be no respect, love, friendship, or trust.”
So, you can see that privacy within the home, and specifically, a child’s room is essential for their development as an individual, but also to help foster deeper familial bonds.
When parents should start knocking before entering
Now that you understand more about the benefits of privacy, you are likely wondering at what age these become truly important for children.
As children are individuals there is no set answer, however there are some indicators to help you.
From 8-11 years of age, is when children become very aware of themselves as individuals within a social group context. However, school attendance makes this sharper, so you may find it is apparent earlier, such as from age 6 . You may also find from around 6 years of age your child requests more physical privacy as they start to develop a sense of modesty.
The fine line between privacy and protection
It is not the easiest thing to balance an appropriate level of privacy for your child with protecting them. Of course, if you feel as though there is a conflict, your duty to protect and care for your kid must always prevail.
However, it’s good practice to assess your motivations and ensure that invading their privacy is indeed necessary.
If you realise you are entering their room uninvited purely out of a sense of a curiosity, well, you best reconsider.
However, if you feel that extreme secrecy is occurring, this could be an indication of problem activities or a warning sign of emotional troubles. According to raisingchildren.net.au, you should watch for things like your child spending many hours alone in their room, or being withdrawn and never wanting to talk to you.
In writing this article, we do not seek to instruct you on what is right for your family - only you can know that according to the nuances of your family unit.
But, we do hope to have given you some deeper knowledge on the question of privacy, so you may think it through and decide when or if it is appropriate for you, as a parent, to knock before entering.