Mom - tell the truth!
To lie or not to lie is the question ... Sometimes it’s really difficult to tell the child the truth. Especially if something unpleasant happened and we don’t want to hurt the baby, telling him about what happened. This may be the death of a loved one, the breakup of a family, or, for example, a tragedy shown on television.
But even in more innocent situations, adults often resort to lies in dealing with children. Sometimes we do this also because it is unpleasant or painful for us to talk about something with the child, sometimes because it is convenient for us. And sometimes it’s time out of habit for the child to get rid of his “stupid” questions, not to get confused or stop whining. So, bringing a baby to a kindergarten in the morning, it is easier to tell him that it is only 5 minutes than to find the strength to explain that he will stay here all day and help him cope with the experience of temporary separation.
In some families, cheating children becomes commonplace. And few adults think about what consequences it can lead to.
Aftertaste of lies
A pronounced lie leaves a bitter residue on the lips of the parent and in the soul of the child. And, even if it seems to us that this is a “lie for salvation” or that the child will never guess the deception, the consequences will somehow affect our relationship with him.
First, the child sincerely believes adults for the time being. But, if they abuse his trust too often, sooner or later he begins to feel when his parents are somewhere not telling or hiding the truth from him. On this occasion, the well-known child psychoanalyst Francoise Dolto wrote that "in the family, children and dogs always know everything, especially what they don’t talk about."
Secondly, the realization that parents can deceive undermines their credibility, and henceforth the child begins to doubt any words spoken by adults, even if their truth is obvious. The next time such a child prefers to look for the truth and truthful answers to his questions outside the family - with friends, pals or other adults who will be more trusted.
Thirdly, hiding the truth from the child or silence about some disturbing events, the baby will not be slow to compensate with his own fantasies. All children are wonderful inventors, and if they do not know or do not understand something, they conceive it themselves. For example, a small child from whom it was conceded that grandmother died of a serious illness can easily decide that grandmother died because he did not obey her or was rude to her shortly before she passed away. Some childhood fantasies and conjectures can do more emotional harm to a child than knowing the truth.
And fourthly, by deceiving the child, we ourselves teach him to lie. Our deception turns against us when a child, growing up, prefers to hide from us the truth about how and where he spends his free time, what grades he gets at school and what problems he faces.
"But in fact there are situations when it’s simply impossible to tell the child the truth!" - you object. Let's look at the most common of them and think about how to stay honest with ourselves and with your child under any circumstances.
Is Santa Claus real?
It’s almost two months before the New Year, but the image of Santa Claus is gradually starting to fill children's minds. Will it come or not? Will give or not give? Not all modern children selflessly wait for Santa Claus, and indeed believe in New Year's miracles. They at this time are most interested in another question: "Does Santa Claus exist or does not really exist?" In this case, is it worth adults to insist on the existence of a kind old man with a bag of gifts? An innocent and very popular story: parents are tempted to deceive their children and use the image of Santa Claus to their advantage, forcing the child to behave well on the eve of the New Year.
But no matter how tempting an adult the idea of summoning Santa Claus to be allies in matters of raising a child may seem, you should not do this, nor should you insist on his existence if the child begins to doubt it.
We all outgrow faith in Santa Claus. To some, the debunking of this New Year's myth brings disappointment and frustration, while to some of the children it makes you feel more mature. So do not be afraid to be exactly the kind of person who will help the child to go up a notch in his growing up. Let the child understand that, despite the fictional character of Santa Claus, he still remains the main symbol of the New Year for children and adults, without which the holiday would not be so bright. And what about gifts, then assure the baby that he will definitely receive his New Year's gift, because giving gifts to each other is a mandatory New Year's tradition.
Is your mother already dead?
When I worked as a psychologist in a kindergarten, once a three-year-old boy came up to me and asked: "Has your mother already died?" Some experience told him that in most adults, parents grow old and die. Therefore, according to his logic, my parents should have already died. With childlike spontaneity, he immediately decided to test his hypothesis by asking me a question directly in the forehead. This boy in his three years could calmly talk about death, realizing that people at the end of life are leaving us. Unfortunately, not all adults are also willing to calmly discuss issues related to dying with children.
When someone dies in a family or on a television screen, when we learn from the news of mass killings or terrorist attacks, we try to protect children from collisions with death by any means. But children think about death much more often than adults think. The most curious of them begin to ask us questions as early as 3-4 years. Is it worth it to talk with children about death in such cases? Yes. Especially if someone close to the child died in your family, if the baby saw someone’s death on TV and it doesn’t give him peace.
But one should not say more than the child wants to hear. It is best for children to explain what death is and why people die on specific examples with animals, insects. And then it’s best to follow the logic of the child’s questioning.
Of course, the child’s own curiosity and what he wants to know about death can scare him. But, if you competently build a dialogue, the child does not face the appearance of new fears. For example, if we are talking with a child about the murder he saw in the film or shown on the news, you should always assure the child that he is safe and that most people around him will not harm him.
In no case should you hide it from a child if someone from a family member or loved ones has died. Excuses like “grandfather went very far” or “your aunt went on a journey” amid the general mourning atmosphere in the house will further confuse the child. And for children there is nothing worse than a feeling of uncertainty and understatement.
A child, like any adult, has the right to learn about the death of a loved one and survive his little grief.
This doctor won't hurt me?
In the same kindergarten, I repeatedly watched how mothers and teachers by any means tried to persuade the kids to go for a physical examination. If it came to vaccination or blood tests from a finger, then the imagination of adults was in full swing. The children were told that the doctor doesn’t do vaccinations, but “puts the watch on his hand”, that taking blood from a finger is like a mosquito bite. But for some children, these tricks did not work at all. These children in horror in front of the doors of the medical office asked me: “Will it really hurt?” To which I had to answer: “No, it’s not very painful. Just a little bit. I am sure you will be able to tolerate. " Oddly enough, such words of some children encouraged much more than tales of watches and mosquitoes.
Why is it important for a child to know what will happen to him outside the doctor’s office? Firstly, it reduces the feeling of uncertainty, which can be much more frightening than knowing that an injection or enema awaits you. Secondly, by assuring the child that he will not be hurt at all, and maybe even pleasant, we run the risk of severely undermining his trust in us if the doctor hurts or disagrees with him. And thirdly, as in any situation frightening a child, he has all kinds of fantasies about what awaits him. For example, one boy, going for a blood test, thought that all his blood would be taken from his finger and he would die. Therefore, it is important to talk with children about what awaits them outside the door of the doctor’s office, and try to answer their questions as truthfully as possible.
Choose words that are appropriate for your child’s age and experience. Compare, for example, the pain that the baby will have to experience from the injection with something already familiar: "You will be a little painful, but I'm sure you can tolerate it as you endured the time you cut your finger." Do not scold or shame the baby for tears or trying to get away from the doctor. Admit to yourself that doctors sometimes hurt children, but this is necessary, and children have the right to be afraid of doctors and cry. This will help you to be more honest with your child and find the right words for him.
What is sex?
Sex-related issues begin to worry children long before puberty occurs. And, before moving, having matured, to "practice", kids can’t wait to understand the "theory". But this only speaks of the natural interest of babies in life in all its manifestations.
Having heard this “forbidden” word from your child, do not rush to wash his mouth with laundry soap. Ask what meaning he puts in it. Young children can call different things sex.
In any case, whether the child lets out in your presence or directly asks, this is a good reason to talk with him. Talk without moralizing and reproaching, without shame and deliberate disgust for this topic. No matter how old a child is, he always has the right to find out how he actually came into this world. And should change - depending on the age of the child - not our versions of the birth of children, but the words with which we will answer his intimate questions.
When is dad coming back?
Divorce affects children the most. Moreover, the most painful thing for a child may not be the fact of a divorce, but hiding information from him and pretense of adults.
I met children who sincerely believed (not without the help of their mothers) that their dad was on a business trip or working somewhere else, and therefore he was not at home. The kids did not suspect that Dad would never appear on the threshold of their house again or would come to them now extremely rarely. They waited for him and more and more insistently asked their mother questions - until they were visited by a vague guess that they were left without a father. The reaction to this discovery was the most unpredictable.
Of course, it is painful and unpleasant to talk with the child that mom and dad are breaking up. It is very difficult to find the right words. But without this, you will only give him the ground for frightening fantasies. For example, a baby can imagine that dad left home because he behaved badly - because children tend to take the blame on themselves in such cases.
Try to be truthful with the child and explain to him that dad will now live separately, that this is normal and that many children have separate parents.
But you should not be too frank with young children and tell them that dad was cheating on mom or drinking. Maybe it will become easier for you from what you say, but such a “truth” can only do much harm to a small child. This is with children of secondary school and adolescence, you can discuss problems arising in the relationship, and rely on their understanding.
It is important for preschoolers and primary schoolchildren to maintain a positive view of their parents, so dose the truth about divorce depending on the age of the child. Sometimes it’s better to just keep silent about something than to deceive.
5 steps to talking without cheating
1. In no case do not dismiss the child's questions that seem untimely, difficult or unpleasant to you. Believe me, children do not ask questions when they are not yet psychologically mature for this. Do not get off with a joke or a phrase: "If you grow up, you will find out." It is unlikely that the child will wait until he grows up, but he will most likely never contact you again.
2. Be attentive to the questions of the child and try to understand what exactly he wants to hear in response. Try to redirect the question to himself and ask what he thinks about it. Sometimes it turns out that the child has already found a suitable answer for himself and he only needs your confirmation.
3. Do not rush to immediately lay out all the information, start with the main and the simplest, answer the child's questions in a metered way. If the child is interested, he will ask you more questions, and you, in turn, will be able to turn the conversation into a fascinating dialogue.
4. Treat each such situation as an opportunity to make relationships with your child more intimate and open. Show him through your own example that trust is the most important thing between loved ones. Without fear of being punished or ridiculed for a “wrong” question, he will grow up to be a confident and inquisitive person.
5. Do not be afraid to ask questions yourself and do not engage in self-deception in those situations when something really goes wrong. When we are honest with ourselves, we will always find the right and right words for our child.