For the most part, children don't seem to have any kind of filter when it comes to speaking their mind. On the one hand, that can put you, as a parent, in some pretty awkward social situations, like when your kid tells a stranger that she looks old (yup, that's happened). Yet, on the other hand, it's refreshing to hear a child speak straight from the heart, like when they tell you that you're their best burrito buddy (that happened, too). So instead of feeling embarrassed by your child's frankness, consider looking for signs your child is honest, not rude.
People say honesty is the best policy, but is that sentiment extended to children? Often times, no, it isn't. In my personal experience, I receive two very different reactions from people when my son speaks the truth. Either people find it adorable that he says the bold things most people only think, or people take offense and throw shade at both of us solely because he read them like a book at the library.
So the next time someone gets salty about your child telling them what's the tea, just remind them of all the ways your child is honest, not rude.
1. They're Understanding
For the most part, your little one tells it like it is. What separates honesty from rudeness, however, is that honest kids know when to press pause and show some understanding. Clinical psychologistDr. Seth Meyers told Psychology Today, a sign of honesty, not rudeness is "to give someone the benefit of the doubt before rushing to judgment."
2. They Ask A Lot Of Questions
A typical trait of many young kids is their ability to ask questions a million times a day without ceasing. So it's no surprise that honest children tend to ask even more questions in order to form their opinions, according to human resources expert Ben Olds. In an interview with Inc., Olds said that honest children are known for, "demonstrating genuine curiosity into the opposing point-of-view before they launch into attacking it."
3. They Value Integrity
Some people assume that frank people can be bullies. It's actually the opposite in children. My son's teacher reassured me that speaking up isn't a bad thing. In fact, she noticed that honest children were loud or blunt because they were standing up against a bully, not being a bully. Now I pause to ask my son why he got involved in confrontations rather than judging his words or actions alone.
4. They Have Good Intentions
Though children aren't usually credited with the ability to read between the lines, they are actually quite adept at understanding and articulating the motivation behind what they say. Anna Jezuita, a psychotherapist, told the UK's Counselor Directory that when it comes to honesty versus rudeness, "the underlying intention of honesty is compassion and care for the other, rather than their own need to feel better or more comfortable." So take a minute to examine the intention behind your little one's comments. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you see that it comes from a place of empathy.
5. They Seek Praise
From the time a child is old enough to understand the difference between telling a lie and telling the truth, they are taught that honesty is rewarded and dishonesty is punished. In the most simplistic of terms, they are so painfully frank because children enjoy being rewarded for honest behavior, according to Baby Center. The experts at the site noted that this is reinforced because, "she'll feel great about herself when she hears you say, 'Thanks for telling me the truth. I like it when you do that.'"
6. They're Consistent
If your child is consistently getting themselves in hot water due to their unwavering honesty, that doesn't necessarily imply they are rude. As therapists Linda and Charlie Bloom noted in Psychology Today, truthful children, "are not the ones who experience the least conflict or the fewest upsets, but are rather those who are the most willing to relate with both honesty and sensitivity." So it's because of their ability to engage honestly with others with great consistency that they're mislabled as rude.
7. They Aren't Mean-Spirited
Even as an adult, it can be hard to take your ego or personal bias out of a situation when someone opposes your position. The same goes for children. Olds told Inc. that honest kids are able to, "discuss the idea [instead] of discussing why the person who voiced the idea is dumb, selfish, mad, or evil."
8. They Recognize Hurt Feelings
Most children I've seen who are rude, bullies, or just plain mean all have one thing in common: they couldn't care less about how their words make other people feel. After talking with several parents, teachers, and my son's pediatrician, I've found that it's helpful to take note of children who are able to recognize when another kid's feelings are hurt. So, although some parents don't want "that kid" to come over for play dates because they're seen as rude, I'll gladly invite them over because I know they care and just haven't quite mastered the art of tactfulness yet.
9. They Care About The Result
This is especially true in older children, but an easy way to tell the difference between being honest and being rude is to note if they are concerned about the outcome. Jezuita told the UK's Counselor Directory that an honest child's goal is, "to be as clear and factual as possible, yet there is still concern for the impact." Essentially your child sees a situation they think needs to be fixed, they explain it in a truthful manner because they care about the result and who it affects.