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Childhood AGEnda

New research shows the age at which we as parents feel it appropriate for children to assert their independence. Find survey results and expert advice below.

Parenting is – we’re sure we’ll all agree – one of the most difficult jobs in the world. And with no ‘how to guide’ or rule book to follow, it can sometimes feel like you’re fumbling your way through, doing the best you can for your child but still unsure… how do I compare to other parents?

What age is ‘normal’ for my child?

Here at Cuckooland, we understand that the job of a parent is never an easy one. At the end of the day, we’re all doing our best… but it’s only human to wonder ‘how do I compare to other parents?’. We asked 400 parents with children of varying ages to tell us at what age they felt it was appropriate for a child to do certain things and to make certain choices. The graphic below shows the results, with the full range of answers represented by the bars, and the average response dictated by the marker:

Childhood Development Findings

As parents ourselves, we know how important it is to feel confident in the decisions you’re making. The reality, of course, is that – in spite of the many recommendations that might exist – every child is different.

With that said, there are some things that we have come to a common consensus on. Based on our survey, here are the areas of childhood development around which there was little uncertainty, with the range of answers spanning the smallest time period:

  • Consumption of age 15 rated media (answers between 12 and 16 years)
  • Posting on their own social media account (answers ranging from 12 to 16 years)
  • Babysitting for a younger sibling (answers ranging from 12 to 16 years)
Mathy-By-Bols-Bunk-Bed-Discovery-1
Mathy By Bols Discovery 1 Bunk Bed
Campervan-Kids-Bunk-Bed-from-Julian-Bowen
Campervan Bunk Bed by Julian Bowen

Where parents disagree

There are also areas where parents disagreed; the following areas had the largest range of answers:

  • Stopping co-bathing, which ranged from 2 years old to 10 years old
  • Having ears pierced, which ranged from 8 years old to 16 years old
  • Consuming online content, which ranged from 8 years old to 16 years old
  • Choosing their own clothing, which ranged from 5 years old to 12 years old
What the findings of our survey really show, however, is that there is a variation across many areas of childhood development, but that the majority of parents say age 10 or above is the appropriate age for their child to be making their own decisions.
As a parent, you can make use of this data by comparing it to your own decisions and opening it as a point of discussion. There’s no right or wrong in the majority of cases but through this tool, we hope you’ll feel empowered in the decisions you make.

What the experts say...

We asked child development expert Pauline Congdon to share her thoughts on the findings of our survey. Pauline runs Little Acorns, a London nursery, and has worked in the early years sector for over 23 years. She told us:

“Every child develops physically, emotionally and cognitively at very different rates. Parents/carers have to be constantly talking to their children, about anything and everything, this will allow them to gauge their child’s maturity and ability to make these decisions and the child will be confident and informed in making such decisions. Just because ‘ all their friends are doing it ‘ (as they will always tell you) doesn’t mean they are ready for such things.

“I did find some of your youngest answers concerning, such as unsupervised access to on line content. Parents should always be in the same room as a child accessing such content and have access to the child’s social media accounts, plus implement parental controls.

“I understand the stresses and strains on all parents/carers in this modern age but using these devises as a baby sitter is detrimental to children and their development in areas such as language / communication and social skills as they are very much solitary activities.

“Children will always flourish within a healthy, happy routine such as a healthy diet and regular bedtimes both of which are the responsibility of the parent /carer and really should not be open for negotiations until the child is old enough to understand the implications of these decisions.”

Notes for journalists

This content is available for use by journalists; please credit Cuckooland in any coverage. For further information, access to data or queries, please contact laura@impression.co.uk.

Further child development resources

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