Moving up the autonomy scale with your kids…without burning down the house.

How’s it going with ramping up your kids’ responsibilities as they get older?

Are you transferring more decision-making power to them?  Are you giving them a chance to build their decision-making muscles?

How do you do this without letting them run wild, eat nothing but candy, and start small fires in their bedroom?

Flickr: Jim The Photographer

Flickr: Jim The Photographer

Recently I ran across a tool for Managers which is a great way for parents to think about how to delegate decisions and actions to their kids!
There are SEVEN, yes, SEVEN levels of delegation – which leaves a lot of room between dictator and chaos, don’t you think?

the seven levels of delegation

What the 7 Levels mean:

  1. Tell: You as the parent make the decision and communicate it. (We’re having chicken and broccoli for dinner tonight. End of story.)
  2. Sell: You make the decision but you try to persuade others to buy into it – communicate the ‘why’. (Brush your teeth before bed – because if you don’t they’ll rot, you’ll have to go to the dentist to get a filling, it costs a lot, you’ll have bad breath, and there will be a consequence if you don’t.)
  3. Consult: You consult and get input before you make the decision. (We need to set screen time rules for the school year – here’s what I’m thinking. Let me know what you think – Dad and I will make the final decision.)
  4. Agree: You make a decision together as a team. (Which board game shall we play for family time tonight?)
  5. Advise: Your kid makes the decision, but you influence it with your advice. (What are you going to do about your two best friends fighting? Here are some ideas for you. What do you want to do tomorrow at school?)
  6. Inquire: Your kid makes the decision and then tells you about it. (I chose X for my science project…)
  7. Delegate: You delegate it completely to your child, don’t influence them and let them work it out on their own. (How they spend their time when friends come over.)

Now that my son has just started high school, we’re heading up the numbers – there’s a lot of 3, 4s and 5s. And it’s getting very difficult to introduce new 1s and 2s, in fact!

What’s your delegation level, when it comes to decisions/tasks and your kids?

Are there any 1s and 2s that really could be 3s or 4s or 5s?


Summer sleepovers outside on the trampoline – whatever they haul out, they have to haul back…

Maybe you’re so used to planning meals, and setting up the chore chart, that you haven’t noticed you could involve your kids! (By the way, Girl Scouts trains parent leaders to give more and more responsibility to the girls, which made me realize I needed to get into a habit of scaling their contribution to the family.)

If your kids are starting to complain about their chores (not being fair, maybe?), or about what’s served for dinner, it could be a good time for you to engage them in making improvements. Or how MAYBE…turn it into a 5!! Give them parameters but let them be in charge of cooking dinner on Saturdays, for example.

Recently I involved the kids when setting up screen time rules (Level 3)- and it worked out better than if I’d done it on my own – and I had full buy-in from my children (Level 4).

My 14-year-old is capable of making dinner for the family.  I provide ingredients (and he has basic cooking skills), and he’ll find a recipe online and make it.  I don’t choose the recipe, but if he has a question or wants advice, I’m there (Level 5).

And everyone does their own laundry! (Level 5-6.) They know how to do it properly, and it’s completely up to them when and how they do it. There are days where a child has no clean clothes… or wears something damp out of the dryer. Consequences are good…

The house won’t burn down if…

  • You outline parameters for the task before delegating (dinner should include protein, 2 veg, starch, for 5 of us, no deep frying, ready about 6pm).
  • You make where their authority begins and ends very clear (you can research city college summer classes and times and let me know what you want – then your dad and I will see)
  • You make it clear how much involvement you expect to have and where their authority begins and ends (It’s up to you whether you want to change English classes in order to get into volleyball 6th period. I’m delighted though that you found it and it would be great to play 5x week. Let me know what you do.)



2016-10-15T18:15:35+00:00 October 6th, 2016|Categories: Parenting|Tags: , |0 Comments

Leave A Comment