For those of you who are new ’round these parts, I’ve been writing a series of posts called Parenting the Lazy Mom Way. These posts are a bit more “serious,” but still good to read! You can start here at the beginning of our series if you’d like to catch up. I try to keep them short and easy to read.
Today we’re talking about how to teach our kids how to talk to us. Because who all would agree that it’s more important than ever that we teach our children how to have open communication with us as their parents?
I don’t know about you all, but I want my kids to come to me over the little things and the big things that’s going on in their lives. Because of this, I’ve started my kids young on teaching them how to talk to me. I mean, REALLY young. As in, when they were infants young!
When they were just little bitty babies I would hold them in my arms (giving them a sense of security) and I would say things to them like, “Mommy and Daddy love you SO much, and you can tell Mommy and Daddy anything.”
Now I know that may seem a little strange to some of you, but let me ask you this… is it any stranger than strapping headphones to your tummy and playing them music when they were in the womb? I say, start ’em young folks!
As they became toddlers and preschoolers I would continue to say it to them when I thought of it. Usually when I was tucking them in at night. “You know you can tell Mommy and Daddy anything, right? We love you and want you to tell us anything at all.”
Now my kids are all elementary school aged and I still remind them that they can talk to me about anything, whether it’s good or bad. I also really try and reinforce to them that, “We never keep secrets from Mommy and Daddy. Unless it’s a happy secret, like a surprise party, but never anything else. If someone wants you to keep a secret from me, you come tell me. It won’t ruin the secret, because secrets aren’t meant to be kept from your Mom and Dad.”
Another way I’ve been teaching my kids to talk to me is to by teaching them to tell the truth. Now, who knows that this is a tough one? Man, if you question whether or not mankind is born with the propensity to sin, lying should clear that all up for you… I never had to teach my kids how to lie, but they sure knew how to do it on their own!
Something I’ve done since they were little was to teach them that it’s always better to tell the truth. One of the ways I did this was by a family rule we instituted. That rule is this… if you tell me the truth then you won’t be punished, if you tell me a lie it’s an automatic spanking.
This family rule (truth = no punishment, lying = automatic spanking) was something we felt like would work in our house to teach them to tell us the truth. And this was very important to us because we want our kids to talk to us! What if someone did something bad to one of them and instead of telling us about it, they lied to cover it up? I want my kids to be able to talk to me about stuff that happens to them and I want them to learn how to tell me the truth about it. I don’t want the fear of punishment to keep them from talking to me!
Even though we have this family rule, they still try and lie to me! One of the things I do when I can’t tell if they are telling me the truth or not is this… I say to them, “I will find out if you’re lying to me about this and you will get an automatic spanking for it if you are, so you might as well tell me the truth now and get NO spanking.” This usually gets them to spill the beans on themselves, or if they don’t fess up, I’m pretty certain they are telling me the truth after all.
As my kids continue to get older, our family rule will inevitably have to change. My goal while my kids are young is to train them to tell me the truth. Just like potty training! You train them how to do it young, but when they get older they are already “trained” how to do it. So when my kids are older instead of “tell me the truth and you won’t be punished,” it will probably move to, “tell me the truth and you will receive less punishment.”
But we aren’t quite there yet… although we are probably getting close. Truth training takes a lot longer than potty training! Although, some of you who are in the middle of potty training may disagree.
So, what are some things you’ve done to teach your children how to tell you the truth? Share them in the comments area below. I may want to add it to my arsenal of techniques.