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Knocking before entering a room with a closed-door is simple etiquette. If my door is closed, it’s closed for a reason.
I expect that kind of respect from my children, and they can expect it from me. Knocking is easy. What comes next is the bigger challenge.
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Should Parents Knock Before Entering Their Kid’s Room?
It’s a sign of respect to knock before entering your child’s room. Children who are given this example are likely to become respectful adults. The most effective way to teach a behavior to a child is to show it. By doing this, they’ll realize their privacy, and therefore they themselves, are valued.
Knocking Before Entering
My husband and I have an open-door policy. The door to our bedroom stays open at all times unless we need privacy. Maybe I’m changing my clothes, wrapping presents, or simply want some alone time with my spouse. Those are the times when the door is closed, and a knock is both appreciated and expected.
The same is true for my children. They both value having their own space and will shut their doors to let the rest of the family, not to mention the cat, know they need some time to themselves. Once again, knocking is appropriate.
How Important is Privacy to Kids?
We know children need privacy, especially as they enter the adolescent year. What we might not realize is how giving them the right amount of privacy increases their confidence in their parents.
A child who is given the right to their own space feels trusted and, in turn, will trust their parents.
The Right Way to Knock on a Bedroom Door
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to knock. Some parents simply rap on the door as a courtesy before walking in. Others knock, wait for a voice to tell them to come in, and then leave if they don’t get permission.
Neither of these are good options. The best way to knock is to rap firmly and wait for permission to enter. If no permission is given, knock more loudly. Wait again and, if there’s still no response, enter the room. The child may only be listening to music, but they could also be in danger.
I have implemented a third level of attention-getting that bypasses the knock altogether. I use an intercom that cuts through any music when I need to get a child’s attention.
I will either give them the information needed or ask them to talk to me in person. I manage to avoid breaking their privacy while continuing to communicate. It’s a win-win.
When Knocking Doesn’t Work
It’s a fact none of us want to admit to, but it’s true: Sometimes, a child should not have privacy. This is especially true if a child suffers from depression and is at immediate risk of self-harm.
Children with these struggles still need privacy, but they may be at risk to themselves if given too much. Talk with them and with their therapist to determine how much privacy is too much.
Drug use and addiction are reasons to reconsider the amount of privacy given to a teen. Again, just because a teen is using drugs doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have some privacy, but a parent might rethink how much privacy is needed.
Talking with a counselor is a good first step to deciding how to proceed.
The Argument Against Knocking
Some parents believe you should not feel obliged to knock before entering a child’s room. They believe their child’s business is also the parent’s business. They think that they have a right to everything that happens under their roof, and it’s disrespectful to the parent to have to knock.
That is the argument that is made, but I don’t buy it. At least not in its entirety. It is a parent’s job to guide their children so they can grow up to become successful, independent adults. It’s not a parent’s job to control their children so they can manage to never truly grow up at all.
Unless there is a mental, emotional or physical reason not to knock, a parent should provide respect to their children as much as possible. Remember, your end goal should be to create good functional adults! Not necessarily good kids.
Show Respect to Your Kids When You Can
Knocking on a child’s closed-door is one of the easiest steps a parent can take to show trust and respect. Do you agree? What are your reasons for thinking parents should or should not knock on their kids’ doors? Tell us in the comments!
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