Levels Of Liberty

Years ago some of my homeschool mamas attended a class about teaching kids responsibility. I wasn’t able to go, or more honestly I probably didn’t want to go, but then when I heard them discussing it I knew it was something that I wanted to try.

It is a whole system of teaching your kids skills, giving them an opportunity to master it, and then giving them more freedoms because of their mastery.  

I created my own version based on what I learned and called it Levels of Liberty. It has been a game changer for my family. My sweet husband, who normally does not like charts or systems, was on board with this because it showed the kids where they are, what they need to work on, and what their liberties will be when they master their different skills.

The Principle Behind Levels of Liberty

One of my favorite scriptures is, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” This is the principle behind the whole Levels of Liberty system. When my children do what I ask of them they are promised certain liberties. 

What I like about this is that I’m not the bad guy. I’m the one trying to give them certain freedoms like a cell phone, later bedtime, or the freedom to drive. They know what is expected of them to be able to do the things that they want to do.  

One of our freedoms is to be able to go out with friends without an adult present and some of my kids hadn’t earned that liberty yet; this gives them a clear guide of what they can do to be able to go out with friends without an adult. When it is important to them, they’ll work on mastering the skills.

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Levels of Liberty

Teaching kids principles that will last

Creating Your Levels

I wish I could give you a template of the absolutely best way to create your levels, but your family is not my family, and what might work for us, won’t work for you. I will share with you some of our levels to give you ideas, but know that you can change it to fit your family’s needs. 

The biggest thing to know with creating your levels is that it is a living document. What does that mean? It means that it is constantly changing and evolving. You are not locked into anything. You can make one, see what works and what doesn’t work, and then change it up.

I highly recommend creating your levels together in Family Meeting. From Stronger Faster Better it says, “If you give people an opportunity to feel a sense of control and let them practice making choices, they can learn to exert willpower. Once people know how to make self-directed choices into a habit, motivation becomes more automatic.”

 Basically, by having your family help create their own document it gives them a sense of control and then they are more inclined to become motivated to complete the skills they are working on. Obviously some kids will grasp this quicker than others and one of your kids might be too young to really help create it. That’s why it is a living document so it can be adjusted for all the “what ifs”.

Last tip in creating your levels is to individualize it for each of your kids. We made the mistake of making our levels the same for everyone and it did not work. One of the basic skills to master was to pick up after yourself. Everyone was quickly able to master it except one kid and it wasn’t the youngest one. It was a skill that was just too advanced for him at the time. So we scratched the whole thing, I interviewed each kid and they helped me create what skills they were going to work on.

Now that we’ve been doing this for a while I may bring to family meeting what the new skills are to advance and everyone can approve them or help edit the document.

During a family meeting we decided how many levels we wanted, which ended up being seven and the kids gave them all fancy names like: Tadpole, Padawan, Yellow Belt, Soldier, Texas Ranger, Ninja, and Sensei.  Being able to think of catchy names is a beautiful skill that I have apparently passed down to my monkeys.

Using FEMPSS to Create What They’re Mastering

How do you pick what each kid is working on mastering? We use FEMPSS as way to help know what skills we want them to know.  Quick recap, FEMPSS stands for financial, emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual. You can read a much more in-depth explanation HERE.

I will share with you what some of my kids are working on right now and what age they are, so that it can give you some ideas of what you want them to master. We also work on some of their skills during family meeting, especially the emotional skills. 

George, 18 months

  • Currently not working on any skills other than general adorableness.  

Brigham, 7

  • Finance-paying tithing and savings without reminders

  • Emotional-learn what to do when frustrated

  • Mental- high quality work with chores, complete your extra chore without reminders

  • Physical-shower four times a week, brush and floss two times a day

  • Spiritual-read scriptures five times a week

  • Social- balance time with family and friends

Tess, 10

  • Finance-paying tithing and savings without reminders

  • Emotional-learn what to do with strong emotions

  • Mental- high quality work with chores

  • Physical-shower four times a week, brush and floss two times a day, cook 2 breakfasts unassisted

  • Spiritual- read scriptures five times a week, family history one time a month

  • Social- balance time with family and friends

Joshua, 12

  • Finance-paying tithing and savings without reminders

  • Emotional-learn to express yourself, especially when upset

  • Mental- finish schoolwork in a timely manner, high quality work with chores, make your bed, complete extra chore without being asked

  • Physical-shower everyday, brush and floss two times a day

  • Spiritual-read scriptures five times a week, attend the temple one time a month or complete family history

  • Social- stay the same whether you are with friends or with family

Bella, 14

  • Finance-track spending, paying tithing and savings without reminders

  • Emotional-learn what to do with your anger

  • Mental-maintain a B- or higher, get chores done on time and do high quality work, study one book every year, put your stuff into the calendar

  • Physical-exercise two times a week, cook three dinners and one breakfast unassisted, shower everyday

  • Spiritual-read scriptures five times a week, attend the temple one time a month or complete family history

  • Social-limit time on social media

Porter, 15

  • Finance-track spending, save $3000 for mission

  • Emotional-learn to express emotions in a positive way when upset, learn how to deal with stress, take 100% responsibility with how you react

  • Mental-maintain a B- or higher, get chores done on time and do high quality work, study three books every year, put your stuff into the calendar, check on buddy’s work

  • Physical-exercise three times a week, cook five dinners and three breakfasts unassisted

  • Spiritual-read scriptures everyday, attend the temple one time a month or complete family history, study one religious book a year

Ethan, 17

  • Finance-track spending, save $3000 for mission, pay tithing and savings without reminders

  • Emotional-express emotions when upset/angry, take 100% responsibility with how you react

  • Mental-maintain a B- or higher, study at least three books a year, check on buddy’s work

  • Physical-wear clean clothes, shave without reminders, brush and floss two times a day, exercise three times a week, cook five dinners and three breakfasts unassisted

  • Spiritual- attend the temple one time a month or complete family history, study one religious book a year

  • Social- attend one social activity a month, at least one time a month sit with other kids during lunch

Ideas for some liberties

Here are some ideas for liberties that we have for our kids, but it isn’t a one-size fits all mold; different beliefs and parenting styles change this greatly. But I would like to give you some ideas, so here are some of our liberties.  

Level 1 Tadpole- love, clothing, shelter, food, and all basic needs met, 8:15 bedtime

Some of the other liberties we have are: a later bedtime as you advance until you don’t even have a bedtime because you have mastered your time, can play at other’s homes, can have friends over without mom and dad home, know the computer password, can go with friends without an adult within a certain proximity and then advances to further out proximities, being able to drive for own pleasures, dating, have a social media account, cell phone, and when our kids advance to Level 7 they have complete independence.

If you don’t have older kids I would recommend not filling in all the levels. When they’re young their liberties are so much different than teens, so I would just adjust it as they grow.

What to do when someone advances?

When someone advances we make a big fuss about them in family meeting and announce what their new liberties are. Then within a week or two I would give them their new skills.

How do you know when to advance them? Unless they are an older child who obviously has some mastery, I would recommend taking it slow and have them master a skill for at least six months, if not longer. Some of my monkeys have been on a certain level for over a year. It’s about mastery, not how fast you skim through stuff.   

What if someone digresses?

This is a great question, as I have seen it in my own kids and others. They work really hard to master a skill and then when they pass a level they go back to old bad habits. I never have my kids go back down a level, you can only go up, so what we decided as a family was if someone who had mastered getting their chores done on time doesn’t get them done they lose certain liberties, just for the day. It’s usually just not being able to play with friends, and turn in any electronic.

If you have any questions or need some help creating your Levels of Liberty send me an email at thehippiemamablog@gmail.com