We often wonder where our 3 year old learned to tell a fib or to keep secrets. Well, most often it is from the parents, grandparents, or even their siblings. All it takes is hearing someone else telling a lie or actually being asked to do so for whatever reason, and a habit is formed. No matter how harmless the lie may be, it is still a lie and this behavior can lead to some damaging consequences.
I caught my own mother sneaking my son a cookie right before bed. This made me a little upset because I do not allow him to have sugary snacks before gong to bed. However, what really angered me was hearing her tell him, “Don’t tell your mother”. I was surprised that she would be teaching him to keep things from me at this young age. When I spoke with her about it, she failed to see the seriousness of the matter and thought it was funny to do this. However, she did agree that she would not do it again in the future. We shall see.
I know that I have been guilty of telling lies in my life and keeping secrets as well. We are all likely guilty of doing so at some point in our lives. I realized something frightening that I wanted to share with all of you: When our children are taught to keep things from us or tell lies, this opens up the floodgates for so many bad things to take place in our children’s lives, and they are afraid to open up to us about it.
Sadly, the words “Don’t tell” are the motto of every creep out there in the world. They want to manipulate our children into keeping their dirty secrets and for centuries, it has worked. Children are so afraid to tell their parents what happened to them for fear of punishment when they are made to believe they are bad by the predator.
We need to make our children feel comfortable in telling us when they experience good and bad things. When they make mistakes or do things that they know they shouldn’t be doing, teach them with love. I’m not suggesting that there be no consequence for their bad behavior, but they need to know that no matter what, they can come to you. Beating them with a frying pan for being late will not likely win you any brownie points.
Start communicating early in life; that way it will only grow stronger as the years go by.