Age Appropriate Behavior – What Should Be My Expectations?

james-lehmanMost of my articles come from real-life experiences, and this one is no different. I had just gone 15 rounds with 3 of my kids trying to get them to school on time, and I was worn out. It seemed to me that this had been a pretty regular thing lately, and I started thinking to myself “What am I doing wrong?” My mind went down that path a little way, but not too far, since that way was looking like this might be my fault. So, I took a little detour off that path and thought “Maybe I’m expecting too much of them for the age they are”.

There we go! That was a much easier route for my mind to take, since it didn’t involve anyone being at fault, me or them! Cool! I figured I’d just get out my trusty Total Transformation workbook, find the section on age appropriate expectations, and I’d get my answer. (By the way, I refer to that workbook and the Total Transformation CD’s often – they’re starting to get worn out!)

I did find a section on age appropriate behavior, including age appropriate consequences and age appropriate rewards. (I discuss this a little further down in this article), but what really caught my eye was a section on styles of parenting, and I realized that this applied perfectly here. James Lehman, creator of the Total Transformation program, talked about seven different parenting roles that parents play. These roles are generally well-meaning but ineffective because they fail to promote responsibility, accountability, or change.

The Seven Permissive Parenting Roles

These roles are Bottomless Pockets, Over-Negotiator, The Screamer, The Ticket Puncher, The Savior, The Martyr, and The Perfectionist. With titles like that, I had to read further. What I was soon to discover was that I played several of the roles, and I played them well! The one that applied in this instance was The Martyr.

The Martyr takes on the child’s responsibilities, constantly lowers expectations, and fears that the child will experience unhappiness or distress. I could see myself perfectly in this role, and I didn’t really like it. The thing I like about James Lehman is that he says it like it is, most of the time it’s just good common sense, but when you’re in the middle of the battle with your child, common sense doesn’t often come in to play. Too many emotions flying around the room, it really helps to hear and see what Mr. Lehman has to say.

If you want to read more about the different parenting styles, click here.

Now, to get back to age appropriate behaviors, consequences and rewards. Here’s how Mr. Lehman sees the different age groups.

Ages 5-9 – At this age, children are interested in time with parents and other adults. They are beginning to establish some independent relationships with peers, but often need some adult support with this. Age appropriate consequences include going to bed early, losing TV or computer time, and going to their room. Rewards could be staying up late, earning stickers, and having someone do a chore for you.

Ages 10-14 – Children at this age are just beginning to struggle with a sense of themselves. In addition, they are practicing independence, while still requiring a great deal of parental supervision and support. Connections to peers are becoming primarily important in their lives. Judgment can be poor when an older teen is offered choices and activities. Consequences might be losing TV time, being grounded from activities, or losing phone time. Rewards include use of cell phone, gaining computer time, and getting to choose the food for dinner.

Ages 15-17 – At this age, adolescents must be working on independence. Priorities center around peers and young adult activities. They are trying new things and building new skills. Most of the motivators at this age, both positive and negative, center around the car – being able to drive it, or being banned from it. Others include loss or gaining of phone time, and computer or TV time.

That all sounds great, but my kid’s not there! How can I get him there?

Don’t lose hope yet, there is help out there. And yes you can do it!

Click here to get some great workable ideas. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


  1. Rocio Tenorio says:

    I am the mother of a trouble kid, but I do not have my husband support. He gets mad at the situation but will not follow the rules set or changes consequences. Will this program help me??

  2. Matt Hellstrom says:

    Hi Rocio,

    I think it’s a very good program, and I think that it would work if just one parent implemented it. However, it’s always going to be better if both parents believe in it and are willing to work at changing. Maybe your husband will be more receptive to the program if he sees how easy it is to do some of these techniques and what kind of results you get.

  3. Hey Rocio

    I never comment on a product blog but I feel the need to in this instance. This program is not dependent on a two parent household. While my husband is present in our home and very active in rearing our child, I am primarily a stay at home Mom and so I implement most of what is recommended. It has been a tremendous help for me as we adopted a 12 year old who is ADHD and ODD. She is now 15 years old and EVERYONE who interacted with her initially and interacts with her now are shocked at the transformation. No pun intended. While things aren’t perfect, we travel with more ease; she participates in afterschool activities without my being overwhelmed; she is more motivated having gone from not doing homework when she arrived in our home to making the principal’s honor roll for the last three tri-mester; she is able to follow instructions better, even when she hates the instructions; …my blood pressure has gone down to where it was prior to her arrival; the list is endless.
    I recommend this program to every parent who shares their crisis stories with me. I know that there were other things that helped, like prayer and fasting (I am a Christian) but I also KNOW that the Total Transformation program has indeed lived up to it’s name. It is practical and efficient. Actually, after listening to the jumpstart I was jumping myself. I probably sound like a commercial but I don’t work for the company nor am I being paid to share this with you; I am just thankful to the company for producing a product that works for me:-)so it was worth my paying them for the product. Yes, it is worth every penny.
    Make the investment. You will be thankful that you did. There’s hope!

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