We haven’t entered the lying/sneaking phase yet.
I’m relieved because over the weekend it became pretty obvious I have some work to do in this area.
My husband and I were chatting in the kitchen when our toddler came over, his face all scrunchy.
“Yucky mommy. Yuck.”
As he got closer I saw what he was talking about.
There was POOP all over his fingers.
I gasped, feeling my over-the-top reaction brewing.
Luckily, my husband had a very different response. He immediately knelt to our toddler’s level and said, “Thanks for showing me, buddy. Let’s go get this cleaned up.”
My jaw hit the floor. I had to hold myself back from giving him the ‘slow clap’.
I thought it was awesome. Here’s what I liked about his reaction:
- He kept his cool
- He thanked our toddler for his courage in coming forward
- He carried on, cleaning up the mess without making our toddler feel like he was ‘bad’ or did something wrong
Most of all, I felt like his reaction would make our toddler more likely to tell us when something is wrong in the future.
My reaction, on the other hand, would have surely set him up to want to hide his poopy fingers next time. Imagine if I had started in with “OMG!!! This is soooo gross!!! Is there any on the couch??!!!!!! I can’t believe this!!!!”
Why would our toddler come forward when the only time he had done so resulted in me making a big stink about it? Making him feel embarrassed and ashamed in the process, I’m sure.
In a funny coincidence, just a few days later a friend sent me a link to a research article about promoting honesty in children.
The basic gist: If you want to promote honesty in your children, focus on the positive consequences of truthfulness rather than negative consequences of dishonesty.
So basically do what my husband did.
DO NOT do what I did.
Image Credit: Sameer Vasta