In our last poll:
Does Your Child Lie like a Rug
We visited a dilemma common to anyone who has ever taken care of a child: at one point or another she or he will look you straight in the eyes and tell a whopping lie. You know itís a lie but you are unsure of how to handle the situation. You have spoken and some of you have chosen to take a no-nonsense attitude and punish the child. Interestingly, just as many of you have decided to forego punishment in favor of a heart to heart talk with an explanation why lying is wrong. The numbers were once again split for those who decided to do nothing or simply were unsure about the right course of action altogether.
While very obviously one size does not fit all, here are some common sense ideas for your little ones when it comes to lying:
Take stock of your own attitude toward lies, deceit, half-truths, innuendo and the like first. While this may sound a bit odd, it is important to note that lying is viewed differently by different individuals. For example, if you are in the habit of having someone excuse you from coming to the telephone or the door with the statement ěshe is not homeî when in fact you are in the kitchen, then you will most likely make some allowances for your child as well. If, on the other hand, you pride yourself on being brutally honest, then you will probably expect the same from your child. Getting a handle on your own attitudes toward lies in their various forms first will permit you to formulate a parenting plan that will prevent your giving mixed messages in the future about this subject.
If you find that you wish to tackle the situation of lies, then sitting down with your child and explaining the difference between right and wrong, truth and make belief is a good idea. Once your child understands that make belief is great, but not when you ask a question and want an answer, she or he will be much more likely to understand the behavior you are expecting.
Once your child is clear on what you expect with respect to the truth, then set some consequences that will happen when she does not live up to that expectation. Once you do decide to punish your child for lying, you will need to be consistent! You might want to give your child a ěfreebieî when she lies and then immediately turns around and acknowledges she lied and apologizes. Instead of punishing her, this is a great time to praise her for making a good choice!
This is also a good time to teach your children about feelings. Ask them how they would feel if you broke their favorite toy and then said it was a stranger who came in and did it. They might feel afraid of that stranger you invented, angry that you did not take better care of their toy and sad that you did not come clean and apologized. Help your children understand that this is how people feel when they tell lies.
While this approach will not prevent lies altogether, it will cut them down to a manageable size and quantity.
Here is the scenario: You and your little sunshine are waiting in line at the checkout of your local mega mart when he suddenly gets this gleam in his eye you know so well - a tantrum is only minutes away! He wants one of the candy bars that seem to surround the checkout but you have already said ěnoî twice and do not want to give in now. As his voice goes up, so does your perspiration - will you give in just to quiet him down?
About Sylvia Cochran
Welcome to the world of a poet and freelance writer who juggles a family, work, and a hundred commitments. Born and raised in Germany, and since 1988 living in the United States, this writer offers a global perspective on parenting issues, everyday living situations, time management, ethics, marriage, and personal growth. She publishes her work at Families Online Magazine, and Bella Online. Contact her with questions and comments at [email protected] and be sure to put ěFamilies Onlineî into the reference line.