Adults in your household may need to discuss issues, but advise them to speak carefully out of respect for your little ones. If children are nearby and overhear adult conversations that they shouldn't, some negative outcomes could result. It is even possible that you won't realize that the eavesdropping has occurred, especially if a child tries to hide the fact that he overheard you talking privately.
A child who overhears an adult conversation that grows heated may experience anxiety, especially if the arguments continue repeatedly, according to registered clinical counselor Kathy Eugster on her website. Habitual parental conflict can lead to feelings of insecurity and guilt in a child, even if you do not raise your voices. Blame, sarcasm and criticisms create a hostile environment that disturbs children and can cause them harm over the long-term.
If a child overhears adult conversations that include bad language, expect to hear these words from your little one eventually, because parental example is a powerful teaching tool for youngsters. Strive to keep language "clean" whenever children might be listening.
Partners often need to discuss issues that pertain to parenting. A child who overhears a conversation about herself or about a sibling might take away a hurtful or harmful message. The conversation could include negative statements about the child, spoken in confidence between parents. A child could learn negative information about herself or about a sibling through eavesdropping.
The world is full of frightening news and scary events, but children don't need to hear all the details. Protect your children from possible anxiety and fear that could result from overhearing a discussion about current events. Conduct these conversations judiciously when children won't be listening.
Immature or Inaccurate Interpretation
When a child overhears an adult conversation, he may hear information he does not understand. Without adult explanation about the overheard conversation, a youngster might misinterpret the information and arrive at a wrong conclusion. For example, after hearing adults talking about how much they would like to move to Florida, the child might jump to the conclusion that the family is selling their house and relocating thousands of miles from family and friends.
Preschoolers may actually manufacture false memories based on conversations they've overheard, say the authors of an article in the journal “Psychological Science.” If a child overhears a conversation that involves something that happened to another person, the child may internalize the information and later claim that it happened to him. This "nonexperienced event" seems real to your little one, who genuinely believes it happened to him.