My 5 year old child seems to be developing a habit for lying. Last night, he stayed with a friend and her two kids while I attended a meeting. On our way home, he told me this..."Zachary did something really, really bad tonight. His Mom told him to get the toys picked up and now! But, he just kept on playing and she brought the belt in and whipped his tail....he still didn't pick up the toys and she made him go to bed to sleep". I said, "really?" He further added a couple of details.... Following this supposed incident....I asked if he was sure that really happened...he again said yes! I then told him that I noticed When I returned he and Zachary were playing and picking up toys when I arrived.....so, if his Mom sent Zachary to bed to sleep, how was he still up when I got there? Of course, he had no answer.....I then told him that when we got home and I was not driving, I would either call or text Miss Amanda to find out what happened because she didn't mention any of that to me when I picked him up. The, the "Oh no Grandma, don't call her or text her, I was just pranking you!". I used that opportunity to given him examples of a "prank" verses telling a lie.....
This isn't the first time he has given me detailed situations which were entirely made up occurred. His mother, my daughter was an avid liar and still is today. I really want and need to try to nip this bad habit in the bud. We have had many past conversations about telling the truth with positive reinforcement for the truth and no significant negative consequences when he is truthful even if it's something he knew better than to do....
Suggestions to curb this habit now?
"What a tangled web of tales we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" What an imagination youngsters possess, and the raging rush a preschooler feels when he first starts learning to tell a lie is tantalizing. As their moral sense develops, we hope our children will outgrow the deceptive tendencies that all children possess at some point during their growing-up years. Because of the ubiquity of Imagination Prevarication all children, I believe things will work out fine--as long as you nip it in the bud NOW. Dishonesty, deception and lying are very serious matters deserving of very serious consequences. In addition, lying DOES work in the short term, so it can be addicting. Suggestions:
1. Let your grandson know that until further notice, pranking is equivalent to lying.
2. When you think he is lying--he is. Even if later you discover he really hadn't been lying in a particular instance, his past behavior has given rise to your assumption of his lying. Be sure and let your son know that his habitual past behavior will definitely influence your present viewpoint.
3. Since lying can develop into a serious habit, serious consequences are needed. The next time he tells one of his "stories", take away several of his prized possessions and privileges--ones that will make him feel some emotional pain when he cannot avail himself of them. He can earn one possession/privilege back for every week or ten days he goes without lying. And each time he lies , he loses another possession/privilege. In 2-3 months, hopefully this budding habit will be a thing of the past.
4. Avoid talking about his lying if at all possible. Don't get into long discussions about it. The less it is discussed, the less the attention he will get for his "stories."
5. I have allowed for my children's imaginative storytelling, as long as he is not intentionally trying to mislead
Let me know how it all works out.
Mike Smart, CLPC