Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lying Part 2

As children get older, they indeed may consciously lie.   The lie is often the SECOND misbehavior committed in an attempt to cover up the first one.
·         A 9 year old girl disrupts her class, resulting in a teacher’s note that Mom or Dad is to sign.  She forge’s Mom’s signature and insists to the suspicious teacher that it is Mom’s signature.  
·         An 11 year old boy, having trouble with homework, promises to ask for help tomorrow.  He comes home and says he did.  Doubtful, Mom emails the teacher.  She learns he neither asked for help nor made up some missing assignments
·         A 10 year old girl has a note from Mom giving her permission to ride a different bus after school.  She forgets to take it to the office and then tells the bus driver that they simply forgot to stamp it. (School authorities spend time and worry figuring out where she is).
In all three instances lying was secondary to an initial behavior problem – disrespecting teachers, forging signatures, not getting extra help, not taking the note to the office.  While the lying clearly must be punished, these families should ALSO address the initial misbehavior. 
Children learn best when they are required to take responsibility for their actions.  In these instances, we are talking about some fairly serious issues.  A big limitation on the child’s freedom will punish the misdeeds.  But to prevent them from occurring again, responsibility must be put solely on the child’s shoulders. 
Some suggestions:
The child is grounded to his room for 1 week for BOTH the first problem and the lying.  After the week:
·         The 9 year old continues to be grounded to her room until she brings home a statement of “good behavior” signed by her teacher every day for 10 days.  If on any day, no note comes home, the 10 days start over again.
·         The 11 year old is to bring home a weekly statement from his teacher “that all homework assignments were submitted this week in a neat and acceptable manner”.  Any week that the statement doesn’t come home, he is grounded to his room the following week (beginning with the weekend!)  (Helpful hint – stop micromanaging his homework assignments!!)
·         The 10 year old loses all electronics until she has 14 days with no checkmarks on a daily chart (checks are given for either being irresponsible or lying).  If she gets a check on day 4 or 6 or 13, the 14 days starts over again.
In all 3 instances, the child receives a significant restriction on their freedom (which is NOT too harsh – he is still fed, safe, secure and cared for).  But most importantly, he is given a huge opportunity to become responsible for himself.
Just as important, the parent stays calm and in charge.  While some brief discussion about lying is acceptable, your lecture is not what will influence better behavior in the future.  Put the monkey on your child’s shoulder and let him figure out how to make it go away – it will be a lesson he will not soon forget!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lying - Part 1

At a recent workshop, several parents were concerned about lying in their homes.  Examples included children of 5 and 6 as well as children between 9 and 11 – a horse of a different color.  In today’s blog I will focus on young children.  But first of all, the common elements of lying.
When kids lie, parents get really upset – they believe in honesty, they are upset that their child would disrespect them by lying, and they fear that the child is going to turn into a criminal!  One of the key things I recommend to parents is to “take 3 steps backward from misbehavior incidents, take a deep breath and look at the larger picture”.  That almost always results in developing a better response than jumping feet first into the heat of the moment.
Young children do not have the same sense of right and wrong that adults have.  Young children are NOT “little adults”; they do not know what you do.  Therefore, in most instances of young children misbehaving, I recommend that you don’t ask a lot of questions – don’t provide the opportunity for lying in the first place!  If you are reasonably certain that your child did something, don’t ask whether he did it – you are setting him up to say “no” and starting a cat and mouse game.  And when you play cat and mouse you do not look like you are in charge!! 
Your reaction to childish behavior problems should be to “call the foul and assess the penalty”.  If you don’t ask a lot of questions, you won’t give them the opportunity to lie!
·         “You took candy without my permission so now you are going to spend an hour in your room.”
·         “Your toothbrush is dry – go brush them now”.
·         He told you his friend hit him, but then changes the story.  “Oh your friend didn’t hit you?  Well I am glad of that” – and drop the subject.  If you keep asking “why did you lie to me”, your child may really not know the answer and he may be pressed to just make something up.
·         He sneaks into your room to retrieve a toy you had taken away as punishment, and then hides it. “You took your toy without permission so you are spending the rest of the day in your room”.  (Helpful hint: avoid the cat and mouse game in the first place – if you take something away, put it someplace he CANNOT get it) 

Stop trying to figure out why they took candy, didn’t brush teeth, lied about being hit or took the toy back.  Statements like “You know better”, “I thought I could trust you”, “I am very disappointed in you” are stating your adult interpretation of moral behavior.  Your young child simply does not understand right and wrong the way you do.  So use consequences effectively to address the initial misbehavior and don’t create the breeding ground for lies to start!!!  Learning right from wrong will come – albeit in baby steps – Rome wasn’t built in a day!!


Monday, November 12, 2012


Defiance is a word that strikes terror in any parents’ heart!
Defiance is scary because we conjure up terrible outcomes from defiant children.  We fear utter chaos in our homes, our own furious reactions or uncontrollable teenagers.
Many families, when learning John Rosemond parenting, tell me that handling defiance is impossible. They say that no matter what consequence they try to impose, the defiant child (especially those over age 9) simply fights back – even taking the fight to a physical level.
·         Send him to his room?  He stands there and screams even more. 
·         Tell him he can’t watch TV?  He goes to the TV, turns it on anyway and starts kicking if you come near him.
·         Send him to bed early?  He yells that “you can’t make me”.
·         Tell him he can’t go out and play with friends?  He runs out the door anyway.
Parents, the key here is to STOP playing the cat and mouse game. Take 3 steps backwards, think through what is going on in your home and come up with a plan that you KNOW you can control.
Here are 2 examples.
1.       In all of the above scenarios, you do not want to fight your child in any way.  Stay calm (I know this is hard in the face of utter defiance, but you are the teacher and your child is going to learn a lesson – sometimes teachers have a rough go!)  When you can quietly get a word in, say something like: “Well you can make your decisions, but then I will make mine”. 
Later when you have come up with a plan and he is calm, just quietly tell him “because you chose to not follow my directions earlier, you are losing your bike for 2 weeks”; or “I am not driving you to any social activity for 2 weeks”.  It must be a major consequence that absolutely gets the message across that you will not tolerate defiance.  You must carry it out completely, no changes, no backing down.  Remember, defiance is NOT EVER ok.

2.       You are using a ticket system, but when you take a ticket from your 9 year old, she continues to kick, yell, scream, and hang onto your shirt.  Instead of trying to get away from her, sit down calmly and let her tantrum continue until she calms down.  Then tell her that she is completely free to choose to have a tantrum after losing a ticket, but if she does, bedtime is right after supper (assuming that isn’t the consequence for losing all the tickets).
In both examples, you stay calm and most importantly, you stay in charge.  You act like the leader who knows what he wants and expects to get it.  You will need to be consistent and should expect to get tested several times.  Defiance is rarely created overnight and it is unlikely to go away overnight.  But in a fairly short time the words “You make your decision and I will make mine” should strike a chord in your child’s head that reminds him to rethink his choices!