4 Reasons You Should Never Lie to Your Child Even When It’s Tempting To

By Marcia Hall

“It’s just a little white lie.”  Many parents say or think this all of the time.  Usually these white lies come in the form of stories that are told to protect their child in some way from a painful truth they might have difficultly fully comprehending.  But is it really “just” a little white lie?  Children have an uncanny ability to see though and understand more in this life than parents usually realize. With every small falsehood there can be a very harmful down side.

  1. It will cause the parent to tell more lies to keep the story going.  The saying goes, “what a web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”  Each tiny lie may need additional lies to keep the painful truth from your child until you find yourself in a web of dishonesty that is very hard to get out of without causing more pain than you were first trying to protect your child from. Parents who teach their child that honesty is always the best policy should be modeling it to her as well.
  2. Eventually she will find out the truth and discover that not only was the truth kept from her, but there was deception involved.  Whether the truth comes out because the lies became too great or because she has simply gotten older and discovered the truth on her own, her relationship with you will be damaged.  She will feel pain and disconnection from you.  Though most pain and disconnection can eventually be repaired, it can take years to rebuild.
  3. It teaches the child that little lies are ok. This belief will eventually lead to the belief that bigger lies are also ok, until all truth is negotiable.  When a child eventually discovers that mom and dad are frequently telling her small untruths here and there, she will learn to do the same.  At first these lies will start out small, and may even seem “cute” to her parents.  Unfortunately, soon these lies will begin to snowball, getting bigger and bigger.  Eventually she will be lying about everything and believing she is doing no different than her parents.
  4. The truth may help a child learn to deal with difficult situations early in life.  As a child grows, she will need to learn to address and heal from difficult and heart wrenching situations.  When parents attempt to protect their child from these situations by lying, it robs them of an amazing growth opportunity.  Children will only build up resilience though support during painful experiences. Instead of attempting to keep children in a bubble where nothing bad happens and everything is good, parents should be willing to share difficult and painful stories in a positive and reassuring way, especially when she is young.  In general, as a child gets older, she will go to her parents less and less for the reassurance she needs.  So when painful events happen, an older child will be less likely to seek the support she needs, whereas a young child will run right to mom or dad for comfort.  When parents start sharing sad and disappointing events with their child at an early age and offer the reassurance she needs during those times, she will be more likely to continue to come to them for encouragement as she gets older.

Certainly there are times when a child is very young that certain information can be harmful to her.  Details about horrific events or deaths of loved ones can cause some trauma in your child.  Parents need to use their best judgment regarding what their child can and cannot handle.  However, parents should avoid keeping details from her just because they don’t want to have to deal with the pain she might feel from the news.  With each challenging event that parents take head on, offering the encouragement their child needs will help her grow emotionally stronger.  Then, when the most difficult realities of life hit her, she will be prepared to face them.

4 Reasons to Say “I’m Sorry” to Your Children

By Marcia Hall

Parenting is supposed to be about being in charge of the family, having control and being the wise adult is any situation.  For that reason, a lot of parents feel that apologizing sends a message of weakness and ineffectiveness to their children.  However, there are some really great arguments for why parents should say they are sorry to their child when the parent has done something wrong.

  1. It helps the child understand what it means to be “sorry.” Unfortunately, these days the word “sorry” is often misused in our world.  Adults rarely say it to other adults, but frequently force their children to say it.  This situation should be changed.  When parents step up and admit fault to a child it helps the child understand from another perspective what it means to feel remorse for an action. The person that caused her pain now feels bad about what he did and is coming to her to ask for forgiveness. This shifts the focus from “I have to say these words” to “I should feel this way.”
  2. It models healthy lifelong behaviors to your children.  When parents require their child to say “sorry” for what she has done, the parents real desire is that she will eventually say “sorry” for wrong actions, even when mom or dad is not around. However, the only way to help your child develop a desire to apologize on her own is to create an atmosphere of remorse in your home.  When parents apologize for their slips, large and small, this environment begins to form.
  3. It helps your child to see you as the imperfect person that you are.  Your child is going to mess up and make mistakes. This is not because she is a bad child, but because she is human and it is our human nature to mess up from time to time.  When parents show their humanity by admitting their guilt to their child and requesting the child’s forgiveness, it helps the child to see that making mistakes is a part of life and is nothing to be afraid of or even ashamed of.  This will help his self-image to be founded in this truth.  “Mistakes happen, but you can mend broken relationships or fix problems though a sincere apology and move forward trying to do better next time.”
  4. It connects the parent and child together.  Nothing separates a relationship more than when you hurt another person with words or actions.  A yell here and a push there can really add up.  Certainly, there are times when parents have to make choices in order to protect the child.  It is likely that the child will be hurt by some of these decisions, words and actions.  This may not be the best time to apologize to your child.  Validation of the child’s hurt and actions of love are what is needed in these times.  However, when a parent steps over the line, forgets to stop and listen to the child’s point of view, yells without thinking it through or hurts the child out of anger, the parent is in the wrong.  When that happens, a connection with the child is broken.  It is then up to the parent to rebuild and repair that relationship though words and actions.

Saying “sorry” to your child does not make you any less of a parent in your relationship with your child.  It may take some of the power you have over her away.  However, the goal of parenting is not to dominate every situation that children are in, but to guide, direct and be an example of the right way to interact with others.

10 Examples of Logical Consequence for Disobedient Children

By Marcia Hall

Parents would love to be able to say that redirection and positive reinforcement are always effective in correcting a child’s misbehavior. Unfortunately, there are times when a child will only learn correct and healthy behaviors if there is a negative result for her actions.  There are many reasons to pick logical consequences over random and harsh penalties.  If parents want their child to learn from her mistake, her consequence must have a link to the misbehavior.

Here are 10 examples of inappropriate behaviors a child might have and possible “logical” consequences for that behavior.

  1. Your child makes a mess, whether intentionally or on purpose.  A logical consequence could be for her to miss out on playtime so that she can clean up the mess she made.  Depending on the age of your child, she may need a little help, however don’t underestimate your child’s abilities.  If she made the mess she is likely able to clean at least some of it up.  By making this part of life, your child will begin to understand that when she creates a mess, she needs to takes responsibility and clean it up
  2. Your child throws a toy in the house after being clearly told it was against the rules.  The logical consequence is that she loses the privilege of playing with that toy for a reasonable amount of time.  This could be five minutes for a young child and could be a few days for an older child.
  3. Your child intentionally hurts or knocks another child down.  A logical consequence of that action is for her to have stay in the other child’s presence until she can somehow repair the relationship.  Your young child might need a little help finding the words, but avoid telling your child exactly what to do.  Focus on your child repairing the relationship instead of simply saying “sorry.”
  4. Your child speaks disrespectfully to you.  The logical consequence is for you to ignore the comment or request she is making until she can find a respectful way to say it.  A quick, “I will respond to your request when you speak kindly to me” might need to be said one time, but should not be repeated over and over again.  This technique will work for even very young children and can be modified for older children as well.  “It is hard for me to hear your need when you do not speak with kind words” is what you could say to your older child.
  5. Your children are unwilling to share a toy.  You remove the toy from both children and encourage them to work together to find a way to get that toy back.  This helps the children learn to work for a common goal.
  6. Your child refuses to put his toys away or continually forgets to do so.  If you are the one picking up her toys after she has been given a reasonable amount of time to do so, put all the toys left out in a box.  Your child will then need to complete a task for you in order to get that toy back since you completed the task of picking up her toys.
  7. Your child uses something of yours and loses or breaks it.  You work with her to come up with a plan on how she is going to replace that object or fix it.  If the object was taken without your permission, this task should be very challenging for your child to do.  She needs to have to work hard to fix her mistake so she will understand the value and gravity of what she has done.
  8. Your children are fighting at the breakfast table.  You inform them that they need to get along or they will not be welcome at the table.  This might mean that they miss eating their breakfast altogether and are hungry until lunch.  Another logical option is for you to have one child eat in a completely separate location from the rest of the family, showing her that in order to be in community with the family, she has to learn to cooperate with her siblings.

Parents use logical consequence more often than they usually realize.  Logical consequences are somehow linked to the child’s action and naturally help the child see the larger picture.  They are not motivated by a desire to punish the child, but are used as a way to guide her as she grows and develops.

How to Choose Meaningful Consequences for Your Child

By Marcia Hall

Parenting is never easy, and choosing a consequence for your child’s negative actions can be one of the most difficult tasks.  However, the importance of choosing the best and most appropriate discipline is vital to your child being self-motivated to maintain acceptable behavior.  There are three different types of consequences you can choose for your child.

Natural Consequences. These are normal outcomes to imperfect behavior. For example, if your child does not put away his baseball glove, you stop yourself from running out to get that glove before it gets wet from rain or dew.  Instead, you allow the glove to get wet and allow him to play with a wet glove.  You avoid fixing the problem he has because he did not take care of his belongings. In order to be successful at this type of discipline, you will need to be strong in these situations and resist the temptation to rescue your child from the negative consequences of his actions or lack of actions.

Natural consequences can be useful when a child is forgetful in some way.  It does not always work if your child is willfully disobeying you.  This type of discipline will help your child into his adult years because it takes you out of the equation all together and helps your child be self-motivated to work toward positive behavior.

Logical Consequences.  These are practical penalties to noncompliant behavior.  For example, if your child refuses to put away his toys and you are forced to do it for him, you put the toys left out in a box and require him to help you in some way to earn that toy back.  Just like natural consequences, you will need to be strong and not give in to get results.

Logical consequences should be your default mode as a parent.  It is by far the most effective way to correct behaviors in your child because it helps your child remember the lesson learned by connecting that negative behavior to a negative result in his brain. Logical consequences should always be framed as a choice.  Your child has the choice to behave in an inappropriate way and receive the consequence for that action.  But he can also choose the appropriate action and not suffer any consequence.

These consequences are more difficult for parents to promote because in the heat of the moment it can be very difficult to come up with a consequence that in some way matches the action.  However, the more it is done the easier it gets.

Intervention Consequences. These are consequences which by nature will not directly match the action of the child.  For example, if your child is hurting another child or adult it is unsafe and may be unfair to let natural consequences happen.  A logical consequence of separating the child may help, but if this is an ongoing event, some type of intervention consequence may need to occur while you simultaneously search for the root cause of the child’s behavior. Privileges unrelated to the event may need to be revoked or belongings and toys may need to be confiscated for a time.

Intervention consequences should be used only when more logical discipline has proven ineffective.  They should also never be looked at as a permanent solution.  If a child is acting out repeatedly and penalties related to his behavior do not seem to be helping him make better choices, there is always an underlying issue at play.  These types of punishments might help keep your child safe in the short term, but unless you resolve the underlying problem, the behavior will get worse and worse.

Consistency and follow through are always the key to finding consequences that help your child make better choices. When parents are on the same page and continuously set realistic expectation with thoughtful consequences they will find their children will eventually become self-motivated to positive actions.

Squashing Sibling Squabbles Over Stuff

When it comes to kids, sharing is a fundamental lesson most parents strive to teach throughout the early years. But when it comes to siblings, it can be easy to go overboard and force them to share everything. While sharing with siblings is certainly important, having some items that you call your own is equally important and helps foster feelings of ownership, responsibility and self-esteem. If your siblings seem to be constantly fighting over toys or clothes, here’s some important points worth considering.

Mine, yours and ours is a real-world concept. In the real-world, it’s no secret that you don’t have to share everything. While of course it’s important to raise kind and empathetic children who can recognize needs and have a willingness to meet them, setting children up to believe that everyone has to share everything with them all of the time will only lead to disappointment.

Responsibility is taught through having your own things. Think about your most prized possession. Is it tossed on the floor or is it packed away neatly, protected from the elements and preserved to maintain its value? When you have something that is yours, it becomes valued and treasured. When children have a treasured toy that they don’t have to share, they learn to care for it properly and take responsibility for it.

Children feel good when they are able to take care of their own things. Consider the sense of pride you feel when you’re house is sparkling clean. It feels good to know that you take care of your things and keep them in good form. Children experience the same satisfaction when they’re proven to be capable of caring for their treasured items.

Having special things you don’t have to share increases the ease of sharing other things. If you know that your most favorite items are not required to be shared, it becomes a little easier to share those other items that aren’t so precious. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what a child has to call his own, the mere fact that he has something he knows he doesn’t have to share makes sharing other things a bit easier.

If you have things out that you don’t want to share, you’re going to be forced to share. When you treasure things that you don’t want or have to share, it’s important not to bring those things out when there will be others who want to check them out. But children can learn pretty quickly that a lot of fun can be lost if you are not willing to share. If your pink stuffed bear is a toy your child isn’t required to share, bringing him out around friends isn’t going to be fun. A friend may not want to play with you if you aren’t willing to share, and a child may opt to share his prized possession rather than having to put it back for no one to hold.

Instead of forcing your children to share everything, allow them to pick a few toys, perhaps ones they’ve received as birthday or holiday gifts that aren’t stored with the communal toys, to set aside and keep for their own. Having a special storage bin for those chosen items that no one else can take things out of can help to reinforce that each child has their own special toys that they need to care for and that are off limits to others. In addition to fostering a sense of responsibility in each of your children, you just might find less squabbling and more sharing as your children grow and play together.

Why Spoiling Your Child Isn’t Always for the Best

When it comes to parenting, the main focus for many is placed upon making sure that your child has more happiness and opportunity than you had during your own childhood years. While it’s certainly admirable to want to provide your child with everything she needs in order to be happy, healthy and to grow into a thriving, well-adjusted adult, it’s suprisingly easy to tip the scales in favor of spoiling your child without meaning to. On the surface, a bit of spoiling can seem harmless. After all, what’s the worst that can happen if you give your child the best? In all actuality, there are some very solid reasons for making sure that you don’t spoil your children and why you may actually be doing them a disservice.

Spoiled Children Are Often Entitled Children

Making sure that your child wants for nothing as she grows up may seem like the recipe for a perfect childhood, but that’s not actually the case. When your child has everything she wants delivered with no questions asked and is never forced to work hard in order to earn luxury items, she learns that she’s entitled to the best simply by virtue of existing. This sense of entitlement can become very problematic as she gets older, leaving her resentful of any situation that requires her to expend effort and utterly incapable of dealing with disappointment or rejection.

Spoiling a Child Will Leave Her Unprepared for Adulthood

As an adult, you know that nothing comes to you for free and that it’s necessary to work hard in order to obtain the things that you need to survive, let alone luxury items that you’d like to have. You understand that conflict resolution is an essential skill, that disappointments will come but that they must be faced and that you won’t always get the credit or rewards that you deserve. It’s normal and natural to want to protect your child from those lessons, but it will only leave her more bewildered and hurt when she eventually has to face them as an adult. Rather than spoiling your child with a shower of gifts, intervening to fight her every battle for her and demanding that she be rewarded for the slightest achievement, consider the impact that such behavior would have on her view of adulthood. Unless you’re willing to financially and emotionally support your child for the rest of your life, you’ll need to help her learn to navigate these very real aspects of adult life by allowing her to experience disappointment and helping her to work for the things that she wants.

Spoiling Your Child is Spoiling His Work Ethic

Because you know that adulthood isn’t easy, it’s tempting to shower your little one with gifts to make sure that he has a magical childhood to look back on when the going gets tough. The truth of the matter is that regardless of how harsh it may seem, childhood is a training ground for the tough work of being an adult. If the hottest and most expensive new toys are purchased at the slightest indication of desire, your child is never expected to do any chores and has no concept of the value of a dollar, how is he ever going to learn how to make a living when he gets older? There’s nothing wrong with purchasing the occasional gift or making a splurge purchase for a birthday or holiday, but you’ll still want to make sure that your child also works to earn money in order to save for things that he wants. Otherwise, he’ll have no work ethic as an adult and no understanding of why he should work hard as an adult.

A Spoiled Child is Less Likely to Respect Authority

Catering to your child’s every whim and refusing to act as an authority figure not only diminishes your own role as such in your home, but also makes it difficult for your child to respect any authority figures. After all, you’re the first and last word in authority over your child; if you don’t exercise any and make it very clear to your child that he’s entitled to any behavioral habits he likes, he’ll extend that teaching far beyond the walls of your home. What begins as a problem deferring to the authority of a teacher could easily become a refusal to respect that of an employer, making it difficult for your child to hold down a job or enjoy a successful career.

Your Child is Not a Status Symbol

Showering your child with the best of everything and making sure that she’s always dressed to the nines is not an effective method of spoiling her irreparably, but also of turning her into a status symbol. Proving to your neighbors and friends that you’re affluent and successful by turning your child into one not only spoils her, but also sends the message that her only value lies within her ability to be a great accessory. If keeping up with the Joneses is something that you simply must do, buy a few luxury cars rather than spoiling your child senselessly.

How to Gain Your Child’s Cooperation Without Yelling

By Marcia Hall

When you get frustrated at your child because she’s not listening to you or doing what she’s supposed to do, it’s easy to lose your cool and start yelling. However, yelling can have adverse effects on your child, including her starting to fear you. There are other ways to get your child to cooperate without raising your voice.

Always Back It Up

When you lay down an edict without backing it up with some kind of consequences for choosing not to listen, there will be no reason for your child to stop. It doesn’t have to be anything terrible, but your kids need to know that you mean what you say the first time you say it. If you say “stop” and then ignore them until the next time you look up from what you’re doing, your child will perceive that you did not really mean it and that he still has some wiggle room before getting into serious trouble. So, before it escalates to yelling at your child for defying you, try speaking firmly, looking him in the eye and laying down the law.

Instead of demanding that he stop his behavior several times before you make a move, back it up as soon as they don’t listen. This will teach them that they should pay attention to you the first time you speak instead of waiting around until they know you’re about to snap. In time, the habits of your child will change to reflect this new way you speak to him. He will start to listen right away and stop trying to push your buttons when he realizes he can’t let it get that far out of control anymore.

Don’t Wait for Them

Repeating yourself will not help your children understand that they need to be listening to you. Just like a broken record, eventually you tune it out because it’s just the same thing over and over again. Expect the same behavior from your kids.

Don’t wait for your children to “catch on.” They may be too young to understand that their behavior is not acceptable by simply hearing you ask them to stop time and again. If it is something like cleaning up after themselves, don’t ask them several time before giving up and completing the task yourself. It may take a little longer, but make sure they understand they have to do it right away. First, state what you want them to do, then say why, then repeat what you want them to do and emphasize it needs to be done now. Now, here’s the tough part: watch them do it. Eventually you won’t have to do that last part, but until they catch on that you mean what you say when you say it, you’ll have to make sure they do it.

Clarity is Best

Do you do something if someone asks you if you’d like to, even though you really don’t? Your kids won’t choose to either. Keep the questions short, sweet and clear. Tell them exactly what they need to do, not what you would like them to do or what they should do. For example, don’t say, “It would really be nice if you would help your father set the table for dinner.” Instead say, “Please set the table. Dinner is almost ready.” The reason behind your request is clear and the request itself is clear as well.

Reward Work with Play

Getting your kids to cooperate can be as simple as telling them they can do something they really enjoy when they are finished with the chore. Gift your child with a few extra minutes of playtime after an unpleasant task is completed. It’s very important to make sure your children understand that the fun comes second and the work comes first. They need to realize that the thing they want to do can only happen when they listen to you and get the chore done.

Take a Deep Breath

Keeping calm is key. When your children are not listening to you and you are starting to get frustrated, it’s easy to just lose it. If you feel yourself getting to the point of yelling, just stop, take a deep breath and start over. No one likes to be yelled at and your kids are no exception. So, above all else, keep your cool. It’s not always easy to keep a grip on your temper, but the payoff for managing the task is a yelling-free, peaceful household.