Sara at Happiness is Here discusses what’s wrong with the way people talk to children, and how we shouldn’t expect children to feel good about being talked down to.
Ask THEM the questions
So often people talk about kids rather than to them. Questions such as ‘are they hungry?’ or ‘are they tired?’ are directed to the parents rather than the child, who is much better able to answer questions relating to how they feel. It must be frustrating to constantly be talked about as if you have no opinion. Treat kids like anyone else. If you want to know something about them, ask them.
Even compliments or thank yous often end up aimed at parents rather than children. We often hear “your kids are so helpful/polite/well-mannered/well behaved”. Instead, we can simply offer our thanks to children if we want to show appreciation. It is, after all, them who deserve the thanks, isn’t it? So just say “thank you for helping me!” or whatever else you were grateful for.
Tell the truth, don’t dumb things down
Kids know when they’re not being told the truth, and would much prefer our honesty. I once heard someone explain the death of a pet to their children by telling them their dog had gone on a long journey and wouldn’t be back. The kids looked confused and wondered where the dog went, and why, and how did she get there?
I understand wanting to protect your child from pain, but we can always give them honest answers that are appropriate to their age level. Otherwise, children just end up feeling confused, tricked, and untrusted.