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!!


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