Thursday, 1 March 2012

I don't know how to tell you...

I saw this photo the other day.It made me smile, but only for a moment. Then it made me think - why do we lie to our children? 

I go to work most days of the week. It's not easy leaving the house, I would much rather stay at home and spend time with my son, but that, unfortunately, it is life ;) When my Mum came over for a visit Antek started crying when he saw I was not there. 'Shhh' she said 'Mama is in the toilet'. He got up, ran to the toilet door, pointed to it and said: 'mama pee?'...

Too small, too young...

More often than not I think the reason we lie is to protect our children from something. Protect them from the truth, which might, in our opinion, be too difficult for them to handle. But that is an assumption we are making, and we can't know for sure - we are assuming these emotions will be too much for our child. And to a certain extent, they probably are. But how else can we learn to handle these emotions, if not by feeling them in the loving arms of those who care? So, instead of providing a seemingly easier solution ('Mama is in the toilet') it might be worth telling our children the truth and help them deal with it. So that in the future they can do it on their own...

When I went back to work and Antek started staying with his Dad during the day, he cried when I was leaving. Every day. He was sad that I was going to work, as was I. But he also started to understand that this is what happens every day, and started waiting for me to come back after his snack. Now when I turn the key in the door I hear a loud happy 'Maaaaama!'. Pawel helped him through those sad moments in the mornings by being there and explaining. Not making life seem easier, but treating his fears and anxieties with respect.

They won't remember

Sometimes we lie, because we think they won't remember. I've done that. I know now it's not true - they will remember. Antek has. And even if they don't remember, they will start remembering at some point - but how do we know when to stop making things up?

Sometimes when our kids want something in the shop we tell them they have another one at home, waiting. When they want a sweet we tell them they will get it later. Or tomorrow. And then we forget, or hope that they will forget. So we make promises we know we won't keep, or threaten them with things we know we won't do ('If you don't stop I will...').

But maybe it's ok to just say, honestly and respectfully, to our child: 'I know you want that toy, but we can't buy it'. Or just simply explain that we will not let them hit, throw or kick, without making "promises" we won't keep. It might seem like a difficult thing in the beginning, but once we started doing just that, Antek seems to accept certain things much easier now. Sometimes he wants something (don't we all?) that he can't have. We've all been there and know it's difficult (I know I really find it difficult sometimes...). Sometimes he gets angry - but don't we all get angry when things don't go the way we planned or hoped? So now we say: 'I know you really wanted to play with that jar. But it's made of glass and I can't let you have it'. And then he shakes his head and walks away... most of the time :) But we work hard on not saying: 'If you don't stop touching that I will...' or promising 'I will buy you a different one' and then forgetting about it. How many promises like this before he stops believing in what we say?

Just because it's easier

I was sitting on the floor the other day and Antek brought me a little box he'd been trying to open. I wanted him to try and open it by himself, but he held his hand and passed me the box. 'I can't open it' I said quickly. Pawel looked at me and laughed 'Maybe you should at least try?'. We both laughed at this, but I never did it again. If I don't want to do something, I say. If the toys have to stay in the box we say they have to stay in the box. We don't say that toys are tired, or that we can't find them anymore, or that we don't know where they are, or that the box is closed so tight we can't open it anymore (yep, that and more - we've done it all :).

It is interesting though, how hard it is sometimes, and how easy it is to just say something very quickly to get the desired effect. We want things fixed. Now. But what about the long run?

It's easier to lose trust in someone than to gain it back. And I'm sure all parents would want their children to trust them. And there is, of course, the other side too. We want our kids to behave politely, so we behave politely - we model their behaviour. We say 'thank you' and 'please' so they learn to say 'thank you' and 'please'. Well...

photo taken from


  1. Very true. I'm very happy I had the luck to read Dzikie Dzieci and some other useful things BEFORE we had Ania, so I didn't have to learn not to lie. We knew from the beginning that we want to tell her the truth and accept that she might be sad or angry at it. However, sometimes I also want to have something done immediately, especially that she went to bed... and then I would resort to anything. But at least I try not to promise things I don't want to keep. Thanks for sharing and see you again soon:)

  2. And what to do with Santa clause? Christmas star etc. I really don't know. And. .. How to tell 3 year old about grandpa passed away