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These are the bedrock for stability. They are the hallmark of a good plan. Unless we are able to find a stable place; a position which feels certain, we can hardly take decisive action in life. What I am saying here is that being dishonest (maybe the word is tough in this context, but at least we can safely say that contradictions are cousins in the family of dishonesty) with a child can affect their identity. Contradictions create a grey area which is hard to cope with. A child may think that the mother is ok with signing happily their rhymes, but at the same time they are able to detect another level to the message. Kids are very astute and can pick up non verbal cues like no other. They will realise that in reality you are not happy to hear them (obviously when you are not happy to hear them) and that creates a contradiction. So sometimes, it is best to say the truth and say things like, “sometimes I like you singing, but today I am tired and need some quiet time.”
In so doing we are offering also the permission to them to be true to themselves and with others. I think that this is an opportunity to society, who has long forfeited its right to speak its mind. We live in a world which is beset by pressures to conform. So, helping our children break that barrier not only helps them as people, but will eventually help them as adults.


Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on
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