This phrase will transform the way you parent
You’re the parent who’s supposed to have all the answers, but sometimes it’s okay (and encouraged) to say, “I don’t know.” Here’s why this one phrase may transform the way you raise your children.
Saying “I don’t know” can give you peace of mind and encourage important values in your children. (Supplied)

I don’t know… how to get my child to eat his vegetables; why she can’t just stay in her bed and fall asleep; or how to ensure he grows up to be a decent, caring person. Questions like these are common and many parents feel like they should have the answers.

The perfect parent

In a society with such easy access to parenting advice via the internet, there’s a lot of pressure on parents to know everything. In a 2018 Baby Dove survey conducted in South Africa, 89% of mothers who responded said they felt pressure from society to be “a perfect mom”.

The majority of these women felt this pressure from the media. “Influencers”, friends and family will offer different opinions about what is right or healthy, and often this information is conflicting. It’s no wonder you “don’t know” what the right answer is.

This is when you need to have confidence in your own common sense parenting and intuition. Sometimes, screw noodles and peas eaten cold out of a lunchbox in the car is the closest you’ll get to family time with a healthy meal. And that’s okay too.

Cultivating curiosity

Comfortably saying “I don’t know” can give you peace of mind and encourage important values in your children. It’s very tempting as a parent to pretend you know everything. But giving your children answers in the form of close-ended statements, is actually the quickest way to shut down their curiosity, says parenting expert Nikki Bush.

Between the ages of 2 and 5 children ask about 40 000 questions, Nikki said in a 702 radio interview. But as kids grow older, this insatiable desire to know can lose some of its urgency. When parents admit that they don’t know everything and follows it up with, “but let’s find out,” they show their children that not knowing is normal and that there are sources you can use to find the answers. They’re encouraging curiosity and teaching them the power of research.

Emphasising empathy

You are your child’s first and best role model. By admitting your mistakes and apologising, you teach them humility. When you acknowledge that you were wrong, you encourage them to reflect. You are opening them up to the possibility of change and improvement.

As a parent, it’s not your responsibility to know everything, but you can always say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”

Simplify financial learning. Live better.

Encouraging a sense of curiosity and learning when it comes to money is one of the best ways you can prepare your child for the future. By starting as early as possible to explore the simple concept of saving and investing together, you are preparing your child to manage their money responsibly and successfully.

Decide on something your child wants to save towards – a game or an experience, perhaps – and have them save a set amount of their pocket money every week in their own savings account (at Capitec, you can open an account for children under 16). Give them opportunities to earn more money by doing simple tasks and errands. As they get older and more technology-savvy, show them how compound interest works by helping them to track their balance on the Capitec app.

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This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Capitec.

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