Too often I have sat in family meetings about a child’s behaviours or mental health issues and have heard parents say “Well, Billy knows not to do that” or “Susie knows that her father and I don’t allow that” or “Tommy knows what to do when he’s feeling like that”.
But how do you know your kids know something? Have you explicitly told them recently or are you making an assumption? Is your message given loudly, clearly, and consistently?
Here’s my rule: Never assume a child knows anything for certain.
Why is this a good rule? Because it creates a no lose situation. If your child does indeed know the information, they are getting an informative and positive message once again. Hearing good information two or three times helps it stick. If your child doesn’t actually know the information, then you can rest-assured knowing that you clearly gave it to them.
Assuming your child picked up the heart-warming lesson in movie you watched together or heard you that one time 3 years ago when you stated your disapproval of a classroom bully is not good enough. Kids don’t always pay attention. Kids don’t always listen. One of your many jobs as a parent is to make sure important information gets absorbed into those developing minds.
Have you told your child recently that it is never okay to intentionally make someone feel bad?
Have you told your child recently that if they are feeling depressed or anxious, that they can talk to you about it and you will help?
Have you told your child lately that violence and aggression towards themselves or others is not okay?
Have you told your child recently that you love them, no matter what his/her academic skills, sexuality, or athletic abilities are?
State the obvious for your kids, so you can confidently say “My child knows that”.