Hide and Seek can be fun for kids… but the thrill is in being found. No one wants to stay hidden forever. That means they’ve been forgotten and are not part of the group anymore.
An (admittedly imperfect) analogy can be drawn to hiding our wrongdoing
When adults do something wrong, our temptation can be to hide it. But we quickly learn that the hiding becomes a problem in and of itself.
It cuts us off from our community. It allows our detrimental behavior to continue to harm us. It brings unwanted feelings of shame.
We don’t want this for our children.
Why do children often begin to cover up their wrongdoings?
For one thing, it is usually easy to hide a hurtful wrong, while deciding to reveal it is hard.
For another thing, children are scared of the consequences, especially when that may include punishment in some form. So instead of acknowledging the wrongdoing and exposing themselves to the adult’s potentially negative reaction, their temptation is to hide it.
Also, children sense a breach of relationship when adults get angry or express disappointment in them, making their choice to hide seem like a safer alternative.
What can we as parents or caregivers do to help children navigate these difficult waters well?
The most important action we can take is also the most simple: Show them through modeling. When do children see you admit that you have done something wrong or handled something badly? When have they seen you apologize for your actions?
One dad sometimes gets mad at his kids and yells at them. (Admittedly, they’ve generally done something to provoke that response.) He knows he shouldn’t yell at them, so after he cools down he will come back and apologize to his children. Through this they learn that it’s okay– even good– to be honest about your shortcomings.
The more honest I can be, the less I have to hide…when I have nothing to hide, I have everything to give.
–American singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins
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