Ways to Foster Honesty through Conversation

Listen to your kids

Listen to your kids (Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi)

Good Afternoon and Happy Halloween,

So many newsworthy events have been happening lately.  The East Coast weather is on everyone’s mind, the elections are in their final days, and the holidays are just around the corner.  These three things don’t usually have much in common, but as I started thinking about this week’s post all three came to mind for the same reason: talking to your kids honestly.  There are numerous situations where you just wish your kids would stop asking questions, or you hope that they don’t notice something, or you thought they had forgotten about a certain topic.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.  Today I would like to offer strategies that help you talk to your kids in a comfortable way when you are in an uncomfortable situation.

Communication During a Crisis

The goal of communication during a crisis situation is get the most information out with the least amount of effort.  There are dozens of different types of crisis situations.  You may have time to prepare and plan, or you may have to act at a moment’s notice.  Being mentally prepared can help in all crisis situations.

  • Talk in an assertive but non-threatening way using the simplest words possible.
  • Keep your voice at the lowest volume possible when giving directions.
  • Give directions in short clips instead of a long train.
  • Give information about the situation that is honest and to the point.
  • Allow your kids to tell you their feelings and ask questions, if there is time.
  • Identify with their emotions in yourself, “I am also feeling scared.”
  • Give them honest reassurance.
  • Model behavior that shows leadership and logic

Communication about Adult Matters

Kids are smart and curious.  They want to know about the goings-on in their parents lives.  Over the past several months there has been lots of conversations about the elections, the economy, women’s rights, finances, health care, etc.  Kids are barraged with ads on TV, mail at the house, conversations they overhear, and billboards all over town.  It is not surprising to me that they are interested and curious to know more about these topics.

  • Decide what information is appropriate for your child to know.
  • Allow them to ask questions in an environment that is non-judgmental and honest.
  • Allow them to have opinions that differ from yours.
  • Ask them follow up questions to further the conversation.
  • Talk about adult topics in simple ways.
  • Relate information back to their personal experiences like earning an allowance, being sick and seeking medical care, incentives that are important to them, etc.
  • Talk to them about what it means to be president and how our country is different from other countries in this way.
  • Encourage conversations about character and what it means to be a leader.
  • Practice the, “no thanks,” conversation to have with phone and door-to-door solicitors.

Communication around the Holidays

Holiday time is usually very stressful.  Tension and anxiety are high, positive communication breaks down and behavior tends to follow.  Lots of families have had a tough year financially.  Hosting guests for the holidays and the spirit of giving can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Having a plan in place to talk to your kids about these things now can save you time and frustration later.

  • Talk to them about budgets and money.
  • Reinforce behavior with conversations and reminders of expectations.
  • Practice conversation starters to use with guests as well as follow-up questions.
  • Practice honest ways to show appreciation towards others, especially in uncomfortable situations.
  • If you give to charities, talk to your kids about why you choose that charity and why it is important to give to others.
  • Start conversations about family traditions, what they mean, and how they got started.

Building a relationship with your kids that is both open and honest is a huge job.  What it boils down to is showing what honesty looks like through your actions towards them and others.  Kids are going to ask lots of questions either way, having those questions directed towards you is the goal.

I would love to hear from you! 

  1. How do you teach your kids about honesty?
  2. What are some situations where you felt you did or did not handle the conversation correctly?
  3. How do you mentally prepare for uncomfortable conversations?

Also, I have started an account on Pinterest just for my readers.  I invite you to check it out and follow me as I add helpful pins for all areas of parenting.

Good Luck,

Katherine

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