Parents should help their teen tell the truth at all times – but only by walking the talk and by being a role model themselves.
By Rachel Goodchild
Your child is now growing up fast, and has reached those teen years. You have heard all the stories about what teens get involved in, or you might even remember your teen years. The question is, how do you get your teen to tell the truth?
To really answer the question, you need to stop and see what your child has learnt these past years. During all these years your child will be learning by what they see, not just by what you tell them.
Think back for a moment, to those times when your children asked you difficult question, and you didn’t want to answer and brushed them off saying: “I will tell you later”. Later came and went but the answer was not forthcoming. Or the time when you were busy, and they wanted you to help them, but you told them, ok, when you’ve finished your job. Then, when the job is finished, you were now too tired to help them as promised. Or that other time, when you promised to take them on that special trip and something happened and the trip didn’t take place.
Do you see what has happened during these years? Your child has learnt that you can say one thing, and mean something totally different. They have also learnt that your word means nothing.
Children learn their lessons by example, and even though you tell them to be truthful, if they are seeing something totally different, they will be thinking, “Why? Why should I have to tell the truth, when my parents and other adult relatives don’t.”
It might be a case of you telling them not to smoke, and the dangers of smoking but you continue to smoke in front of them. They will be wondering if it is that bad, then, why you are still doing it?
When you are encouraging your teen to tell the truth, you find it starts in their early years of development. A child might be disappointed if you can’t keep a promise, but they will often not forget it. If your child knows that mom and dad keep their promises, and that whatever they say will happen, you will find children less likely to lie to you when they are a teenager.
If you find that you can’t keep a promise, or if you do something wrong, then sit your child down, and explain it to them. You might be surprised by their reaction. But, you will also find that as a teen, they will be able to look back at that situation, and think it’s OK, I can talk to my parents about what I did, because they won’t judge me, but they will help and encourage me.
The best advice to give any parent is to start to tell your child the truth from the beginning. Let them not only hear you talking the talk, but also see you walking the walk. Be the example you want them to follow, otherwise you might find your teen is stretching the truth, to cover what they have done.
the art of parenting
Tuesday, January 15, 2008