If you give them an inch, they will take a mile.
I think about this saying every time I see an elementary child with his or her hair colored. I think about it when young kids have numerous ear piercings. I think about it when elementary kids are allowed to play rated M video games. I think about it when kids are allowed to watch mature shows.
You see, if kids are allowed to do certain behavior at a young age, they often will find other, riskier behaviors when older. It is "normal" for kids, adolescents, and teens to find ways to push the envelope. They want to find ways to express themselves as individuals and to (consciously or not) push the boundaries of what is acceptable. Often it seems they want to drive their parents crazy! I fear that when we allow children to engage in behaviors that are designed for older youth, we are giving them a mile and therefore they must take 10 miles.
I will add that I coloring one's hair for Halloween or a special event with wash out color is viewed differently by the kids so is not the same. But when a kid is allowed to permanently color their hair at age 8, what is the next step when they are 13?
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.