If your children fear you, they cannot be honest with you. In fact, very often lying stems from fear.
Recently someone who purchased the eBook Children of Rainbow School contacted me. She wrote: “My children are fluent in the four levels—so much so that even my 3 1/2 year old is able to identify a given behavior with a particular level. We have two PDF printouts [from your web site] of the hierarchy on our fridge and the levels have become almost table talk. The problem doesn’t lie in the lack of knowledge about the different levels; the problem is a lack of honesty and not wanting to accept responsibility for what they’ve done (‘I didn’t do that,’ ‘It’s not my fault,’ ‘Why are you blaming me?’).
After talking with the letter writer and getting many more details, I suggested that her children may be fearful of her.
What to Do When Your Children Fear You
Here is my response to the reader:
I have the impression that your children fear you.
In order for your children to be honest with you, they need to FEEL that they will not be harmed physically, emotionally, or psychologically. Look to yourself. Ask yourself, “If I were one of my children, would I feel safe with the way my parent is communicating with me?”
Your tone of voice, volume of your voice, and your gestures all play a part in your communications. Unless your children truly FEEL that your only desire is for them to become responsible—and not to threaten or punish them—you will not find the success you are looking for.
Changing your children ALWAYS starts with changing yourself.
A good way to start is to pose your dilemma to your children and phrase it so that they understand you want to learn from them. When they feel that you are truly listening from a place of empathy, they will be more inclined to share honestly with you.
If you’re looking for stress management advice, check out the book Parenting Without Stress.