It is easy to make promises, but at times those promises are hard to follow-through.
While adults may be more understanding when an agreement is unfulfilled, the impact on children might be severe since they do not express their sentiments.
Studies have shown that breaking promises can have a negative effect on children, causing them to feel neglected and unvalued. It may also set a precedent on how children might behave in the future, with the thinking that breaking promises can be done or are acceptable.
Children often remember the words we say even at a tender age. They look to adults for guidance as they learn to stand on their own two feet. Our inability to commit to keeping a promise may hinder their development or worse, leave a lasting impression that can result in a skewed worldview. So, it is wise for us to consider carefully before we make promises.
Here are some pointers for parents:
- Think thoroughly. Would your savings be enough to afford a new toy? Would your schedule allow you to take them to the park and spend time with them? Take time to reflect and assess the resources available to you before setting your children's expectations.
- Avoid overpromising. Take note of how many promises you've made and how many you have actually fulfilled. Remember, it is always better to say 'yes' to a few things and follow through, than agreeing to too many items.
- Be decisive and firm with responses. "Maybe" can be misconstrued as a "yes", and may give your children false hope. When they ask questions, try your best to be straightforward by agreeing with them or turning down their requests. They may not like your response, but it is better to be frank rather than disappointing them.
- Follow through. Do everything in your power to make good with your promise. Make sure that you recognize the weight of the promises you have made, as this will help motivate you to do what it takes and not shake your children's faith.
Promises should not be made only when it is convenient. They should be held in high regard. As such, practice mindfulness before making a promise. Instead of overpromising, deliver like you would do for professional work.
Spend time to apologise and explain the situation when you fail to keep to your word, and make every effort to honour it.