WT 125: How Do I Handle My Sweet Little Liar?
Question 1: How do you handle when an incident has happened but none of your kids will fess up to it? For example the other day I found a pile of gummy bears of all things on one of my kids’ beds (clearly some child had raided the pantry and then got distracted before they ate their contraband…) so I asked my two closest kids, “did one of you guys put these here?” and they said no, so then I sought out my other two kids who both also said no. So that what had just been an annoyance became a discipline situation. I told everyone they were all be getting a consequence and threw all the gummy bears away. You should have heard the wailing that went on! I felt bad for punishing three innocent kids but was unsure what else to do. It seems like something like this happens about once a week lately, help!
Karen’s Answer: I think what you did was perfect! My only other suggestion would be to sit them all down together and say, “I know someone brought these gummy bears up here, so we are going to sit here until someone confesses. If no one confesses then everyone will be punished. I think the “key” to this situation is to start punishing them so they don’t think they can get away with it. Be smart and proactive. Honestly, it sounds like what you did was awesome!
Question 2: How did you encourage honesty with your teenagers? I am trying to figure out the balance between wanting them to be able to tell us everything (so for example, telling them they won’t get in trouble if there’s drinking at a party and they call us to be picked up) but also letting them know what behavior we expect from them. When I was a teen I kept all kinds of things from my parents and lied about them out of fear of punishment – I want my kids to be more open and honest with me.
Karen’s Answer: We told our children if they EVER were at a party and needed a ride home, no matter what they would not be in trouble, because their safety was #1. Now, if your child is calling you after every party to come and pick them up because they are drinking, I think you need to sit them down and have a major talk with them. With teenagers, they are old enough to know why lying is wrong, so therefore, I think you need to drill home the point of how when you lie, you lose a person’s trust. As a parent, if I don’t trust you, then you don’t get privileges of when I do trust you. I used to tell my children, that I knew a lot of people and it eventually will come out, so they should just be honest from the beginning. Pray and ask God that if your child is lying to you, that He would show you and give you the courage to deal with it the right way. Constantly remind your child that home is a safe place for them.
Question 3: Hey Karen! I love your ministry! My problem with lies is when my kids believe everything other kids tell them. And with a 3.5yr old and 5yr old they come home from preschool ALL THE TIME with tall-tales. Like “Jacob was bitten by a shark!” and “Harper’s brother has been to the North Pole and seen a real polar bear.” Most of it is harmless but I feel like me simply saying “don’t believe everything your friends tell you” is over their head. Or me saying “wow, that sounds like it might not be true, do you think it is?” They are always adamant believers in whatever silly thing their peers have told them. My oldest will be starting public kindergarten in the fall. I think what it boils down to is I’m nervous that my sweet, naive, christian-preschooled boy will go to this big, secular school and not have a grasp on if someone is telling him something that is funny/make-believe or harmful/making fun. Am I crazy to care about this??
Karen’s Answer: You are not crazy! But, I don’t think you need to worry about it. 🙂 most children believe crazy stories and tell them too. But, your son will be okay, because he has you for a mom! When he comes home and tells you, you will just lovingly say, “You can’t always believe everything you hear.” I wouldn’t argue about it, just move on. When your son enters kindergarten he will be entering with a lot of other 5 year olds that are just as naive. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just realize kids will be kids, and it’s all okay. ☺
Question 4: My four-year-old daughter lies about things that don’t matter– small things where I absolutely know the truth. I want her to feel safe telling me things, so she needs to know that when she tells me something, I’m going to believe her. But at the same time, I want her to understand that lying is no good and that I already know the truth. How can I encourage honesty but also make sure I’m not always meeting her with doubt when she has been lying so much these days?
Karen’s Answer: I think at 4 years old, I would focus more on changing her behavior and making the consequence of the lying painful. People change when the pain gets so bad they don’t want it anymore. At four she is developing patterns that could possibly stick with her. My Emily lied at this age, and I had to drive home with her that no matter what she needs to always tell the truth. Yes, I did experience it with Emily. I had to get to the root of the lying and with Emily it was that she doesn’t like conflict, so she will do anything not to have conflict. Emily was lying about stupid things, things that even if she did it, she wouldn’t have gotten into trouble about. But, it took her a while to understand honesty is more important than conflict. And conflict would not kill her. Be patient, while you teach your child and try and get to the root.
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