Kids love to repeat things they shouldn’t. When they’re toddlers and mispronounce new words and phrases or innocently repeat parts of private conversations at the most awkward moments, it can be cute, and even funny (once you’ve got over the embarrassment). But when they get a bit older and begin to listen in and collect details of serious conversations they’re not supposed to hear, it can become a bit more challenging.
All kids do it and, for the most part, it’s a normal childhood behaviour.
It can be annoying, but here’s why they do it – and how you can get them to stop listening in to your conversations.
Kids are curious by nature, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to listen in to what you have to say to your partner or another adult. In fact, experts say that conversations that aren’t age-appropriate can even cause or aggravate anxiety in kids.
There’s nothing wrong with putting your foot down if you catch them listening to a conversation they’re not supposed to hear, and to be firm about what the boundaries are around private and shared conversations.
According to a report, there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids know that you are entitled to your privacy – just like they are! And if they have questions about a topic you are discussing, they can come to you and talk about it. But, let them know that everyone deserves privacy and to be able to have an intimate conversation with a friend or partner.
Setting ground rules
Experts say it’s fine to set ground rules around when you deserve privacy. For example, if your bedroom door is closed, it means you are having a private conversation, which they are not allowed to listen to.
They say this is especially important now, during the pandemic, when we’re spending less time alone and there’s a better chance for the kids to listen to conversations they shouldn’t.
Clinical psychologist Dr Lindsay Weisner, author of Ten Steps to Finding Happy: A Guide to Permanent Satisfaction, points out it’s important to also understand what it is your kids are hoping to hear when you catch them eavesdropping. He says this is particularly important during the pandemic. They might be anxious about all the things happening around them.
He explains that conversations like these can “lead to healthy engagement with kids,” and can give you the opportunity to explain, in an age-appropriate way, things they’re eager to find out about – instead of hearing it from other kids, or adults.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.