I think it’s normal for parents to forget to inform their kids of what’s going on at any given point. We go through life addressing finances, marital struggles, bouts of depression, vacation plans, political opinions, etc. and don’t think to include our kids in on what’s happening. Not only can this cause a lot of worry and anxiety for our kids, but we also miss out on ample opportunities to teach and influence them positively.
I’m sure you remember a time in your childhood when you felt left in the dark. How did it make you feel?
Most often, this isn’t an intentional act from parents. We simply don’t think about it. Let’s say you’re struggling with depression. Instead of informing your child that you’re not feeling your best, you put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine. But is that really what’s best for your child?
Our children pick up on a lot more than we realize.
Let them in on your world while also entering theirs
While certain topics or situations aren’t something you should share with your child, especially if they aren’t mature enough, there are many things we neglect to inform them about that could ease their minds.
When you include your child in your world, what you’re experiencing, and why you did what you did, you can teach them so much.
Even in the little moments throughout the day, a small toddler can learn SO much just by doing things with you. Have them sit on the counter while you bake cookies and stir the mixture. You can say, “I’m adding in the baking powder. This makes the cookies nice and fluffy!” Or “This is the sugar; what makes the cookies sweet.”
You almost become a narrator of your life. You explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Again, an incredible way to teach your child without opening a book or sending them to class.
With that being said, here are 9 things parents don’t think they should tell their children but should.
1. Narrate Your Screen Time
Many parents know how important screen time moderation and monitoring are for keeping their kids safe online — for more on that topic, check out this article about digital wellness. But we often neglect our side of things. What message are you sending your child as you stare at your phone all day?
While many are blaming the negative impacts that screens have on kids, we forget that parents’ overconsumption of screens has just as much of an impact on family life and mental health. Many children would love to have the same amount of attention as their parents’ smartphones.
So what are some ways you can make sure your child isn’t negatively impacted by the use of your smartphone? Aside from limiting your time on your phone and setting boundaries around screen time, you can narrate for your child what you’re about to do as you do it.
You see, when you look at your phone, you enter another world your child has no knowledge of. Has your child ever run over to your phone when they hear you’re watching a video? That’s because they want to experience and know what you are experiencing. Try this next time.
“I’m going to respond to these emails or (fill in the blank) for about 30 minutes. I’ll set the timer, and when I’m done, we can play a game together!”
Whatever you’re about to do on your phone and your child is in the same room, let them know what you’re doing. I can’t tell you how much this has benefited us. When my kids know what I’m doing on my phone, they are much less likely to interrupt me because they know what’s going on, with an end in sight as to when they will get my full attention again.
2. Let them know how you’re REALLY doing
Being transparent with your child is powerful. It allows them to see you’re not perfect and in return, not expect the same of themselves. If you’re struggling with something, let them know. Sometimes, kids think that your current mood is based on their performance, even if it’s not. Even when you’re struggling, they need to know why and that you still love and admire them.
“I’m struggling right now. There’s nothing you did; I’m just not feeling the best today. I love you so much.”
3. Think before you speak
We don’t always have the answers, and that’s okay. You can avoid making rash decisions with your kids when you simply say, “I’m going to think about an answer first. I’ll let you know soon.” Your kids can wait!
This will also model for them thinking before acting, an incredible life skill for their life.
4. Be transparent about your marital struggles
You don’t have to go into detail, but make sure your kids know what’s happening. Every family will have marital struggles; it’s completely normal. But when kids feel left in the dark about the outcome, it can feel very scary. Try saying this.
“Mom and Dad disagree on something right now, but we will work it out.”
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5. Challenging times need assurance
When your family is going through a rough time, remind your child often that it’s momentary. Help them to see the good in the situation, but also acknowledge that it’s hard.
“This is hard. It won’t be forever.”
We know, even as adults, that challenging times can feel like they will never end. All the more reason to assure your child that this current struggle is not forever.
6. Be transparent about your opinions
When it comes to preparing your child for the world, nothing beats when you can include them in on why you believe what you believe, whether political, spiritual, or moral.
“I don’t agree with that, here’s why…”
As your family encounters areas you disagree with from the norm, explain it to your children. Let them in on the why and how it can affect you. This will, in turn, help them decipher wise choices for themselves.
7. Remind them of how awesome they are
Most of us can easily get caught up in the correction part of parenting, forgetting we aren’t encouraging our children along the way. Make note of when your child succeeds more often than you correct. This is a hard skill to practice, but positive reinforcement will make for positive interactions all around.
Remember — connection before correction.
“I see how you included your sister this time. that was so kind of you.”
8. Own your mistakes ALWAYS
“I don’t like how I talked to you. I’m sorry. Can I try again?”
Owning your mistakes and apologizing is one of the best ways to reconnect with your child after you’ve yelled or lost your temper. You will also be modeling for them healthy conflict resolution, forgiveness, and humility.
9. How can I pray for you?
There is something so powerful about asking someone how you can pray for them. But we often forget to ask those closest to us — our kids. My son and I have gotten into incredible conversations surrounding this question. He opens up and shares his struggles. It’s also an opportunity for him to witness the miraculous power of answered prayer.
What are some things you tell your child that make your connection stronger? I would love to hear!
Positive parenting tools for every parent
Bark Premium (Parental Control App – use this link or code WFTBBLOG to try it for an EXTRA one-month FREE) – Read more about Bark Premium in my review here; perfect if your child already has a phone, but you need a parental control app to do the heavy lifting of content monitoring.
The Bark Phone – Perfect for parents looking to find their children an affordable phone that protects them from all angles – internet, unsafe apps, messaging, cyberbullying, emails, etc. Starting at $49/mo, all plans include a phone, Bark Premium, and wireless service, with no contract commitment. For younger kids, you, as the parent, can enable the phone for messaging and calls ONLY. And as they mature, you can allow more freedoms/apps (any app you wish). This phone grows WITH your child and eliminates the need to purchase multiple phones at various times in their maturity.
Computer use – When it comes to their computers, you can use Covenant Eyes.
TV’s, gaming consoles, and at-home protection – Bark Home (manage screen time and filter websites on all of the internet-connected devices in your house — including gaming consoles, TVs, and more. VidAngel (Skip or mute what you don’t want to see or hear on popular streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu.)
Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below.
Book List for Kids and Parents:
Check out my recommended books for parenting.
Journaling for Kids
When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination.
Chores for Kids:
Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge
Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is a beneficial tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their progress and keep you from constantly reminding them of their daily tasks.
If you’re looking for something simpler, this is also a good option.
Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer.
If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”
Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids:
Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to share their questions and emotions without judgment.
We even offer an “Exemption Time” for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences.
Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!
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