Teaching Your Kids Tactfulness

Posted on Feb 10, 2013 by 5 Comments
Teaching Your Kids Tactfulness

Understanding the need for tactfulness and passing it on to your kids are two different things.

The definition of tact is: “Acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending.” 

I really didn’t give this much thought until my girlfriend got her hair cut and asked my 9-year-old son how he liked it. He smiled his charming smile and said, “It’s cute, but it makes your face look chubby.” 

I stood stunned. If I had the power to vanish into thin air, I would have done it. Luckily, the woman is a good friend, and she took the comment in stride.

It was a perfect opportunity for a lesson in tactfulness. The problem I faced is the fact that he was being truthful. The haircut did make her face look chubby, so the answer was honest…just not tactful. I needed to find a way to help him learn how to answer truthfully, but tactfully. 

When we were home later that evening I brought it up. “How do you think Joy felt when you told her that her face looked chubby?” 

He looked at me with wide blue eyes and was silent for a minute. “Probably not good,” he finally said. 

“Can you think of another way you could have answered that was honest but wouldn’t hurt her feelings?” 

His mouth pulled to the side in concentration. “I could have just said it was cute.” 

I nodded. 

“But I liked her hair better before she cut it.” 

We talked more about it, and while we didn’t have a perfect answer, I used the opportunity as a lesson in tactfulness.

To my surprise, he brought it up about a week later, and decided he should have just said it was cute, but he liked her hair more the other way.

The fact that he thought about it was encouraging. He may not know the definition of tact, but he is learning the meaning of tactfulness. 

Photo credits: dbrekke

Posted in: Parenting
Donna Sundblad

Donna Sundblad resides in NW Georgia where she serves as the president of the Writer's Alliance of Georgia. Her most recent book, The Inheritance, was nominated for the 2012 Epic eBook award.

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  • http://www.befreebies.com/ BeFreebies.com

    I think it takes boys a little more help with this lesson than girls. I am struggling with my preteen son in this regard. I wish I had taken and knew how to post a picture of his face after I came home with a shorter haircut/hairstyle today. Sometimes I am not sure tactfulness will ever sink in for him.

  • http://www.livingthescream.com/ Living The Scream

    This is a way hard thing to teach kids they are so blunt. I struggle with this as well.

  • http://32in32.com/ Pauline Hawkins

    Your lesson was perfect! Teachable moments are the best ways to guide our children. I wish more parents would do that. Another way to teach tactfulness is by example. Our children are watching us. They will hear us when we are not honest, or worse yet, when we say mean things about other people behind their backs. Children will find the most embarrassing times to parrot our true thoughts.

  • http://www.momhomeguide.com/ MomHomeGuide

    Cute story! Kids can be funny when they are blunt — I know they are just being honest, not mean. I think tactfulness is a good lesson.

  • Susan

    I am so going to fail at teaching my kids this. My husband still needs to learn this lesson as well and thats going nowhere fast.