This is one of the parts of parenting that I typically get judged pretty hard for. I find no logical reason to not be straight forward with my children. No one in the world is going to placate my children or keep their world in isolated perfection. The more honest and open I can be about life, in all of its aspects, the better I am preparing them for entering reality.
You are stinky.
There is no point beating around the bush (pun fully intended). Little girls can become incredibly smelly little creatures. My middle daughter, C2, went through a phase where she was willing to take a bath but did not want to be scrubbed up. This was problematic. I tried politely reasoning with her and explaining that everyone has to get cleaned up. It did not matter.
One night we were cuddled up together and it was really clear she needed a full blown scrub down. In other words, the child was foul. I scooped her up and put her in the tub. She started to fuss and whine about not wanting to be washed up, especially around her vagina. I was frustrated. I finally said in a very stern tone “Nobody likes a stinky vagina!”. C2’s big brown eyes looked up at me in shock. She bent down, took a whiff, and was in full agreement that she needed to clean her vagina. “Nobody likes a stinky vagina” has become our bath time mantra and cleaning her up has not been a problem since.
Unfortunately, there have been instances where she has informed total strangers that “Nobody likes a stinky vagina” but I digress.
Don’t be a jerk
C1 is my oldest and my only boy. He tries his best to be a really good kid. There are times when his personal opinions and sense of justice get out of hand.
When he starts to act up and lose his temper, his mind is racing. Calming him can be really difficult. After many struggles and many attempted strategies, the one thing that always seems to work is “Don’t be a jerk”. He fully understands what that means and he can instantly check himself.
One day he came home from school and was venting a playground frustration. I was half listening when I heard him say, “and I didn’t want to be a jerk, so I took my breaths and calmed down”. He got it. He was able to check himself independently in a social situation. Win.
You will get hurt.
Kids are generally pretty stupid. Mine are no exception. My kids are constantly climbing trees, experimenting with our seesaw, and exploring all the farm has to offer. I do not have the time or the energy to repeat the same warnings to them on a 24-hour basis.
I have adopted the “one warning rule”. Basically I point out stupid and dangerous behavior and the possible consequences of their choices. Usually they pick well, but again… kids are stupid. Sometimes they throw my warnings into the wind and go for it. When injury occurs they always come running and of course I comfort them. But here’s the thing, I straight point out that they were warned of the possible consequence. We talk out the importance of thinking through actions and trusting that I know my stuff. Slowly (again kids are stupid) but surely I can see hesitation in their behavior before something dumb is about to be attempted. It’s a start.
I will own the consequences of this parenting style. My goal as a parent is to produce functional non-asshole adults. This method at least gives me a good shot at accomplishing my goal.