Keeping promises is a way to convey to your children that they can rely on you.
If you can't keep a promise, be honest and you will earn the respect of your children.
Respect is built by integrity. All children begin their journey with immense respect and trust for their parents.
Unfortunately, for some parents, promises are meant to be broken - this quote is widely accepted among adults but for children, this doesn't apply.
“Get good grades and I will buy you your cycle”. “Eat the veggies on your plate and I will give you chocolate after food”. “I have a meeting today, but tomorrow I Promise we will go to the beach”.
Sounds familiar? Of course, it does! As parents, we have all made such promises. However, how often have you kept that promise? Not often I’m sure. Have you thought about the learning that your child gets from this? He believes that it is ok to break a promise, to put off a promise to a later date or that it does not matter.
Parents, for our children, we are the world and when that world starts breaking promises, it is tragic for them. It’s a complete tragedy for them because suddenly they do not know if they can believe, trust and have faith in their parents. Imagine if you faced a similar situation where someone you look up to or follow, preaches something and does the complete opposite!! How would you feel? What is the impression you will carry for that person!
Children may think that it’s a pattern. They may believe that that’s how we are supposed to behave and later on, after a few years, when your child is a mother or a father, that’s the same pattern they are going to follow. They think that if mom and dad cannot give their word why should I? That is something that I am learning from my parents!
So, if we don’t want our children to become promise breakers, and we don’t want our children to tell a lie in future; it is very important that we go about the promises we make to our children, and if you are ever not sure about completing the promise, then make the promise differently. For instance, you can say, “can I confirm it sometime?”, or “I have some work that might come up at that time, I need to finish that and then I will come back to you”. If you say yes and make a promise, then do it; otherwise, do not commit. Do not commit because your child is going to have severe trust issues with all the people and that might impact his/ her personal life as well in future. So do be mindful before committing or saying yes to your child or simply say I promise
Parents, if you make a promise and then something comes up and you are just not able to do it; communicate it, but communicate with a word we often miss to use – ‘sorry’. It’s okay to say sorry, and when you say sorry mean it. Tell your child, ‘I am really sorry I had promised you that we will do it together but this thing happened and I just couldn’t cope up with it.’ Sometimes in urgency if you cannot cope up with it, learn to say sorry. What we do, especially when our children don’t cope up with their promises, when they have committed something and they don’t cope up with it; we say ‘you are lying, you are a liar’. However, your children will never call you a liar for breaking a promise, because they are young and we will never allow them to do that.
When parents make a promise, it's not about the promise; it is about the commitment that you are giving. That commitment, even if you are giving to your child, is a commitment that you are giving to yourself. So, how many times are you going to break the commitment to yourself?
The second most important thing is to not over promise. If you can take your child for a movie, then promise a movie and not the dinner and outing afterwards. You might be hard pressed for time and unable to do the outing and dinner. You are essentially breaking the promise! So promise only as much as you can and anything over and above that is a bonus that the child will surely enjoy.
During certain situations, parents should:
1. Listen - sit back and pay attention to their children.
2. Consider emotions and feelings – it’s okay if sometimes you have to break a promise, because your children need to also understand that it’s not every time that what they want happens. Sometimes circumstances are just beyond us to cope and it's okay.
3. Say Sorry: It’s okay to say sorry but the important two words here are emotions and feelings and don’t react, sit back and listen.
4. Understand and empathise: Those two golden words ‘I understand’ are going to create a very strong trust between you and your child. Create a space for your child when he/she wants to share. When a child can share his/her feelings or emotions, he/she can become a mature individual.
Finally, be attentive to your child’s non-verbal communication just as much as you pay attention to the verbal communication. Your child speaks not just with words, but with gestures, emotions, creativity, feelings and more.
Riddhi Doshi trains and coaches corporate leaders, educators and parents on issues of mental health and behavior. She is an internationally certified Parenting & Behaviour Coach. In past 15+ years she has conducted 2540+ open workshops, delivered 87000+ hours of talks, 53000+ hours of counseling sessions covering 59000+ students and 62,000+ women from various fields. Parenting sessions conducted by Riddhi are housefull and recent;y she completed her 366th Parenting session. She has been a speaker and advisor at various institutions and organizations including IIM, Ahmedabad, Rotary Club, Tata Power, Larson & Toubro and The Time of India. She holds an MBA in HRD, LLM and numerous other professional certifications from prestigious international institutions including University of Cambridge, BSY University, London, City & Guilds, London, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and NMIMS, Mumbai. She has been awarded with “National Award for Cultural Activities by AVANTIKA- Delhi”, “Excellence in Wellness”, “Young Entrepreneurs Award”, “Self Made Diva Award” among various others. With a mission to “make corporate leaders, educators and parents empowered and more aware about mental health & wellness”, Riddhi regularly gives interviews on leading media platforms. She loves to interact with corporate leaders, educators and parents to discuss about women issues, child psychology and parenting challenges.