“Grandpa, you got too much food on your plate. Mom says it’s bad to overeat.” my nephew announced. My sister both outwardly cringed and inwardly giggled at her son’s bluntness. I could identify with her pain, and I secretly laughed with her.
I remembered countless times when my kids too openly expressed their opinions. If you ever want a real perspective, just ask a kid. No, no one is ever that desperate.
“Your breath smells like garbage.”
“No, I liked your hair better than before.”
“Cool! You’re the oldest person I ever met.”
Honesty vs. hurtfulness
Honesty is far more important to our family than being careful of other’s feelings. While I respect and nurture openness in my kids, I also want to teach them discretion. Saying everything that comes to mind is not honesty anyway. The outcome of honesty should be positive, not hurt feelings.
In our home, we don’t care if a family member tells us that we sing like a drowning cat and our dance moves are reminiscent of a scarecrow falling down the stairs. We accept straightforward honesty as another’s perspective and opinion, but since this is not the case everywhere, kids must be taught discretion. Kids are horrible at discretion, but I often think that if the whole world could relate to one another the way kids do, everyone would be happier.
How to teach kids discretion
Kids don’t understand the power of words. They don’t realize that the words they say could be taken differently than what they mean. Teaching kids discretion in their speech starts at home.
I always tell them, “You can say that here, in our family, but someone who doesn’t know you as well might not understand. You could hurt their feelings by saying that. “
And lastly, as Thumper from Bambi had to be reminded, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
This is a good motto to teach kids because Grandma doesn’t really need to know that her laugh sounds like the dog’s squeaky toy.
Even if we are all thinking it.