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10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

Parents all lie to their kids every day, they just don’t realise it. You may tell your child not to lie, but continually saying these lies, no matter how small teaches them to lie as well. They will think it is ok to lie, since Mommy and Daddy lie.

As a parent, I totally understand sometimes we lie to protect our kids, we love them so much that we don’t want them to get hurt. However, I came to realise that lying actually does no good to our kids, it will only back-fire and turn our kids into liars. That’s obviously not what we want so we need to stop doing that and be true to both ourselves and our kids.

Some of the Everyday Lies Parents Tell Unconsciously

Here are some examples of lies that parents will often tell their kids, along with better solutions. These are examples to help you brain storm your own solutions to the little lies you may be telling your child on a regular basis.

1. “Santa Clause is watching you.”

Instead of threatening them with Santa not giving them gifts, take away something in the here and now so they know their behavior has immediate consequences. If they are fighting with their sister and you want the fighting to stop so you say Santa is watching (and eventually they will find out you are big fat liar on this one) have a consequence for their behavior. Have a realistic punishment like taking away electrics for a few hours or giving them a time out period. The one ask parenting method works well for siblings fighting and is explained in this article: Effective Way of Talking with Children.

2. “I will never let anything bad happen to you.”

This may be your intention, but it may not be possible. You can’t protect your child 100% of the time. Instead, use the truth, but frame it so the child does feel protected, yet aware of real dangers. Saying something like “I will always try to protect you, but there are bad people out there so that’s why I don’t want you to wander away from me in a store, as there are kids that are taken from their Mommies and Daddies. I am here to protect you, but if you wander away, then I am not there and you could be putting yourself in danger”. It may be scary, but its also a truthful reality. You don’t want to cause them any undue anxiety, so choose your words carefully. Let them know although kidnappings are rare, it is still something all kids and parents should be aware of, so that they are cautious of strangers when out it public.

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3. “The park is closed.”

You know very well the park is open, but you don’t have time to take the kids to the park because you have errands to run. Instead of lying, be honest. “Mommy can’t take you to the park today because we have to get groceries for the week so we can have meals and I have some other important errands that have to be done today.” They may whine and complain, but that’s ok, they will learn the reality of life is that they can’t have everything that they want all the time. Telling the truth also helps make you an honest parent and not a liar, because eventually they will get old enough and realize you are lying about the park being closed.

4. “It won’t hurt, I promise”

They need to get a shot from the doctor, but they are screaming and you want the screaming to stop so they can get the shot. However, they are screaming because they know you are lying. You said it wouldn’t hurt the first time they got shots. They know better. They learned from the pain that you lied. Don’t lie. Let them know it will be a small poke, a little pain, but then its over and they get a sucker. Explain that they need the shot, for whatever health reason. Don’t be a liar. This one will quickly make you the bad guy because if you tell them it won’t hurt and hurts immensely you are the one to blame. The reality is that shots do hurt, but the pain does go away, so lead with that bit of truth and you will find them trusting you more, not less.

5. “You are the best artist, great job on your painting!”

Don’t bother praising your child when you aren’t sincere. Believe it or not, kids are not as gullible as you think. They can pick up on tone of voice, body language, and know when you aren’t completely being truthful. Instead, you can praise their creativity or the ingenuity in their work. Praise them for something you believe is true about their work and abilities, not an end product that is just mediocre.

6. “Its bed time!”

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Its only 7:30 and not really time for bed, since you know their actual bedtime is 8:00. Simple solution: “its time to start getting ready for bed”. Words matter. You may have meant that its time to get ready for bed, but what you said was that “its bedtime”. Once they begin to tell time, you want to make sure you are saying what you mean and mean what you say. Its all about maintaining the trust between you and your child. It may be a little white lie, but lies upon lies mount up to become bigger trust issues.

7. “I don’t know what happened to your artwork that was hanging on the fridge.”

You know what happened to it because you threw it away. You can’t keep every piece of artwork because you simply don’t have the space to keep all of it. The best solution is to explain this to your child. Show them the drawer or bin where you do keep the best or most meaningful pieces that they make. They can put things there if they want to make sure they are saved. If the bin gets full, then its time for them to help sort through and recycle the pieces that they no longer want to keep. This gives them responsibility over their artwork, and it also makes you an honest parent.

8. “I will be there in a minute.”

Yes, your intention is good. You do want to be there to tuck them in or to help them with their project or whatever it may be. However, you are paying bills and want to finish up what you are doing. Then tell them just that. Tell them that you need to finish paying bills and then you can come to help them. Don’t lie by saying it is a minute, because it may be longer, and the more the time passes before you come to them then the more it makes you out to be a liar. Avoid the lie, by simply telling the truth and being specific.

9. “I am going to leave this house without you.”

Instead of using a scare tactic, use specific and realistic consequences to move them into action. You can say “if you don’t have your shoes on and are ready to get into the car within 5 minutes, then you will lose your TV privileges for the evening.” Be sure to follow through with the consequences every time. You will find you have a child who listens to you because of what you say, not because they are scared into action, but because your words have weight.

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10. “We don’t have enough money to xxx.”

Instead of lying, explain it to your child on their level. Tell them you all want to go on vacation so we can’t go to the movies and sometimes do other things.  Help them understand that sometimes to do something really special and fun, it involves sacrifice. Not only are you teaching them a valuable life lesson, but you are also not making yourself a liar.

Compared to lying, knowing the truth is the best way for your kids to learn and grow

1. Learning about the consequences of bad behavior is the quickest way to correct them.

If your child throws a fit at the checkout every time you go shopping because they want candy so you say “I will get it for you next time”, you are setting yourself up for failure in the future. Eventually the child will realize you say this every time so they will continue throwing fits and their behavior can escalate.

Be honest, and have consequences for their fit throwing. With this in mind you need to have a solution ready for the next time you are at the checkout. Perhaps before you enter the store you have a chat with your child on their level explaining that fit throwing will not be accepted.

Let your child know there is a specific punishment if a fit is thrown in the store, such as no TV time for the rest of that day. They may still throw the fit, but when you follow through with that punishment they will learn quickly that their actions do have consequences, because you will follow through on your word. Your words have the power to make you a parent who is trustworthy or not and the development of this trust starts during early childhood.

2. It’s better to learn from honest comments than to avoid disappointments.

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It is better to be honest and disappoint your child and they perhaps suffer small disappointments along the way, rather than damaging the relationship you have with that child long term. Trust is the foundation of that long term relationship. When you miss your child’s soccer game because you were having dinner with a friend and the game slipped your mind. Instead of being honest you tell your child “I am sorry I had to miss the soccer game, I had an important work meeting I couldn’t miss”.

These are the sort of white lies that create distrust over time, as the child will figure things out and realize you are lying. Perhaps you run into that friend with your child and they say how great it was to have that meal together and catch up. Your child now knows you lied. You are caught. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell the truth? Of course, so make it a habit of telling the truth even if it may be slightly uncomfortable or painful for you or the child. Trust is the most important foundation in the relationship, so don’t damage it when you can simply be honest and truthful in all things.

You should have simply told your child “I am so sorry I didn’t make it to the game, I was having dinner with a friend and I simply forgot about the game. I will make an effort to be at the next one because I feel bad I missed the game”. Being truthful is always best. You gain credibility with your honesty, even if you are admitting a fault. Psychology Today discussed this topic of parents lying to avoid disappointment and stated the following:

The reality is that children can deal with almost any disappointment if provided parental support. It works the other way as well whereby if children are repeatedly lied to by parents they begin to doubt and distrust even the simplest realities.

Be honest, don’t lie, as it damages the child’s ability to trust you in the future. Little trust leads to bigger trust. If your child can’t trust you in the small issues, how are they going to trust you with the big issues, such as drug use or sex. All parents want their children to have open lines of communication and trust with their child, but many greatly diminish that trust relationship during early childhood because of the little lies told during those formative years.

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Dr. Magdalena Battles

Doctor of Psychology

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Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

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When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

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As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

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For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

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First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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