Privacy Please: Should I knock on my child’s bedroom door?

by EPI Staff on March 4, 2011

Q: I know kids need privacy as they grow up, but how old should my child be before I start knocking on his bedroom door when I enter?

A: Unless safety is an issue, always be respectful of your child’s privacy. Generally, once he’s in elementary school, knock and ask permission before going into his room, and expect him to return the courtesy. Also, remind your kid that privacy carries obligations. Let him know what’s acceptable behind his door, whether it’s clothes on the floor, or dirty dishes on his dresser.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mme N B March 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm

What’s wrong with “the moment the kid is old enough to understand what the knock means and answer it”?

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Graceandhonor March 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I agree, Madame.

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Country Girl March 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I just wanted to weigh in my thoughts on the topic. I will start by saying I do agree with the answer and you ladies that knocking is correct, and a good way to teach respect to your children.

However (and I’m a may be little old fashioned in my feelings) I don’t see a big need for children under the age of, say 16, to be closed off in thier rooms much in the first place. While my folks were always good about knocking before entering my room, they did not make it commonplace for me to be allowed to “hide out” in my room very often. I was never allowd a lock on my door, and if I was spending what they considered to be excessive time alone in my room I was usually urged to come out and play board games with the family, go outside and play, etc. When I got old enough to have “gentleman friends” over to the house, age of 17-18, I was never permitted to close ANY doors ie. door to the den if we were watching movies. I have witnessed many a young family members who are permitted to lock themselves in their room to play video games, surf the internet, text, etc and it seems as though they turn into little recluses who aren’t able to then socialize very well with human beings. So I guess the point of my ramblings is: yes I do agree that knocking on your child’s closed door is proper, but I also believe, as a parent, you probably should, set some ground rules on when/how often the bedroom door is allowed to be closed.

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Just Laura March 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I have witnessed many a young family members who are permitted to lock themselves in their room to play video games, surf the internet, text, etc and it seems as though they turn into little recluses who aren’t able to then socialize very well with human beings.

My parents had an “open door” policy. When growing up, my brother and I were not allowed to shut our respective doors. Today, we are both very out-going. Maybe you’re onto something! :)

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Country Girl March 5, 2011 at 12:31 am

As I’m sure is the same with you, I didn’t much like the rules at the time, but I’m sure happy now that my parents had them. :) I, as well, think I am more outgoing because I was not permitted to lock myself away in front of the tv/computer. It saddens me when I see young children who don’t know how to entertain themselves without the use of electronics.

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Eddie March 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

The flip side of that would be one of my former dorm roommates. He locked himself away as much as possible because he never got a moment to himself at home, and never went home because quite frankly his parents had made him sick of them. It’s one thing to encourage, it’s another to obligate. If you want to alienate your kids, force them to be with you all the time.

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Mme N B March 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm

O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous.
Privacy is not a need. It is a right. Growing up outgoing might be a good thing, but growing up knowing that one is respected is better, and so is knowing that one’s children choose to socialize with the family, rather than need to be prodded to it.

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Sean-Thomas March 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

As a nurse, I can tell you that at a very young age, boys and girls become, usually, embarassed to seen even changing their clothes and want privacy. They are just learning about individuality and sense of self. And most will from time to time want to be alone with oneself experience those things. Just because a child or teenager closes their door, even locks it, doesn’t mean they are up to something naughty or bad. As the parent though, they need to understand that the house is your domain and that you do and will control it. I had a lock on my door, but our locks, and most of them made now, have a way to UNLOCK from the outside for safety reasons. The lock has simply become a way to ensure that the person outside the room knows the person inside would like privacy. My father never let me shut myself away, but he respected my privacy, as I had learned to respect his, and he always knocked before coming in. In fact, even though he was military, he never asked to come in, he waited for me to invite him in.

The fine line comes down to this, and we do it in the hospital. Even when the door is open, unless the person can see you as you come in, you should still knock and introduce yourself before stepping in. If the door is closed, Knock, call the person’s name, and ask to come in. The only time I have ever gone into a patient’s room with waiting to be asked, is if I didn’t get a response from my knock!

You would ask, and even demand, that your child do the same things for you when you go into your room and close and/or lock the door. Give them the same respect. And by doing so, they will grow to follow your lead and learn to respect the privacy of others and do what’s right when they have to interupt that privacy.

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Dianne March 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I agree a bit with all the posts, and in particular with Country Girl’s post. It isn’t helpful to allow kids to isolate themselves (unless family dynamics are not healthy, but that’s a more serious issue) and it is also good to recognize a child’s need to be alone and recharge (particularly if they are an introvert). There is definitely a fine line to walk. It is too easy to forget about practicing boundaries and respect if locks are on the doors. But to learn how to be their own person a teen must be given more alone-time and privacy in order to develop healthy separation. And then when they reenter the family activities (dinner time, entertaining family company, etc.) they are able to bring something new and unique to the mix. I want my kids to respect my needs so I must show that I respect theirs. Ignoring family and not socializing is also an etiquette issue – as in everything, balance is the goal.

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Country Girl March 5, 2011 at 12:33 am

Well said Dianne and Eddie! Balance is key.

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Camille March 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Age 11

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