The Importance of Being Open and Honest with Your Kids
by Alicia Robins
It goes without saying that adults need to foster a healthy bond with the children. This is mainly because a child's relationship with their parents, teachers, and guardians contributes to their overall development. Kent Pekel, a doctor of education from the University of Minnesota, likens a child's early life to tree roots. "When kids have strong roots they can grow, they can thrive, they can withstand the storms life throws at them," he says in his TEDx talk. He highlights the importance of a child's early relationships and how these are essential in ensuring that kids grow into healthy adults. A huge part of nurturing such a bond is the conversations you'll be having with the child — whether it's simple homework help or a more difficult topic. In all these instances, it's important to be open and honest with the child. Here are three reasons why: It encourages them to be open as well When you're open and honest with children, it encourages them to do the same. It tells them that they can freely talk about their thoughts and feelings with you. This way, you won't have to worry that they might be hiding something. So, if a child is dealing with a problem at school or with negative emotions, they'll be more likely to open up to you about it rather than keep it to themselves. But, of course, to achieve this level of openness, it isn't enough for you to keep on talking to your child. You should also know when to listen. If speaking openly and honestly teaches a child to follow by example, listening to them attentively further encourages them to do so. By hearing them out, you're reassuring them that you're taking their thoughts seriously. Essentially, to foster an environment of healthy communication, both adults and children should know when to speak and when to let others speak.
It allows you to talk to them about more complex topics There are many things that children don't yet understand, and exposing them to complex topics early on can help both their emotional and intellectual development. Dr. Erika Rasure believes that talking to children openly helps them learn more about the world around them. Plus, encouraging conversation sets a healthy environment where children won't be afraid to ask difficult questions. "It's important for parents to realize that kids are curious creatures — tiny sponges of information," she says in an interview with Yahoo! News. She then goes on to highlight the importance of talking about money matters — just one of the many complex topics you'll have to discuss. "Parents should talk with their kids frequently about money and how it is used in their day-to-day lives." Dr. Rasure is currently an assistant professor for Maryville University's online business programs. Guardians and educators should also be open to talking about the importance of money management as these conversations help children become more financially literate. Regularly talking to children about complex matters also equips them to better deal with more difficult topics. Take the recent COVID-19 pandemic as an example. Feeling unsure about their safety and missing out on crucial social interactions can lead to high levels of stress in children. But if they're able to communicate their feelings, then you can address them, and hopefully, alleviate their stress. It builds a foundation of trust Trust is vital for any relationship, but especially for those with children. Lying to a child can decrease your credibility as an authority figure, whereas being consistently open and honest gives the child no reason to doubt you. Moreover, it gives them a sense of security that further encourages them to talk to you. To develop a more communicative relationship with children, dedicate time to just talk with no distractions. When they bring up something sensitive, set aside your own emotions and be receptive to theirs. Show them that you are listening and understanding and avoid shaming your child. This discourages them from opening up to you and will only hurt your relationship. Being open and honest isn't always easy, especially when you're talking to children. But doing so is good as it helps with their communication skills. It's also beneficial in the long run because it lays the foundation for them to grow into healthy adults.