4yo DD lies all the time, constantly acting sneaky - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 03-22-2012, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My daughter just turned four and has recently started lying. I know everyone will say it's because I have a new baby, but this started long before the baby. She is never punished so she isn't doing it out of fear. She has been really sneaky lately as well and the two seem to go hand in hand.

 

She used to be a real stickler for rules and was very well-behaved. Now I catch her doing sneaky things all the time. She isn't allowed to go into her father's office, for example. Just a while ago, I found her in there eating his stash of cookies he saves for himself. Other times when I wasn't looking, she dumped a pot of dirt all over the dog as she was sleeping in her bed and took the broom, dipped it in the dog's bowl repeatedly and painted the walls with it and the dirt. All of these things she insists she did not do. She told me the dog did it. Sometimes she will say it was "magic." This morning she asked me for some gummy vitamins and when I asked if her father had already gotten her some, she insisted he had not. When I asked, him he said he had already given them to her. There are so many more things she has done. She does things she knows she should not all day long and then lies about it afterward. This behavior is not like her at all.

 

I have tried talking to her about honesty, about how lying hurts me and how it can be dangerous (like in the case of the vitamins). She looks at me and seem to empathize, but five minutes later, she's getting into more trouble. It has turned into an all-day-long thing. I'm so tired of watching her every second and now I have a newborn, so it's even more difficult and she has found more little moments in which I'm busy where she can skitter off and get into big trouble.

 

I also try to give her extra attention and fun time with me, but that doesn't seem to be helping.

 

I can't use time-out because there is no way to get her into time-out that does not involve physical violence. I really believe in parenting without punishing (it's only going to make her lie more anyway just so she won't get into trouble) so what can I do?


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#2 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 04:37 AM
 
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#3 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 06:52 AM
 
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I really liked this article by Scott Noelle:

 

http://www.enjoyparenting.com/daily-groove/why-kids-lie

 

I also like this one from Hand in Hand parenting:

 

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/192/64/When-Children-Lie

 

HTH!


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#4 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 09:53 AM
 
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"I really believe in parenting without punishing."

 

Is a consequence the same thing as a punishment?  The consequence for dumping dirt on a sleeping dog is to get the dog brush and brush every last bit of dirt out of its hair, then get the broom and sweep up the dirt.  

 

The consequence for "painting" dirt with the broom is that she can't go outside for the rest of the day since you can't trust her to be on her own. 

 

I think at 4, most kids aren't going to care whether you're offended by a lie.  They're going to care about whether there's a consequence for it.  So just avoid setting her up to be "rewarded" for lying by not asking questions that could lead to a lie. In other words,don't ask:   "Did you paint this mud on the wall?"   Instead say, "Wow, I see you painted this mud on the wall.  How do you think you're going to get it off?"

 

My twins were 4 when my baby was born, so I know how difficult it can be with those two ages, but your dd needs some boundaries. Without them, I don't see the situation improving.  Yes, it will be difficult for a while, but it will be easier as time goes on.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#5 of 20 Old 03-23-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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Well in the case of sneaking into dad's office, lock the door if you don't want her in there.  Cookies are pretty hard to resist;)  Instead of asking her and giving her a chance to lie, just say I see you dumped dirt, how will you clean it up.  If she says the dog did it or it's magic, you could say something like-I bet that is what you wish happened, now how will you fix this?  4 y/o can still be pretty impulsive so I would make sure if there are things you don't want touched or her getting into, put them up out of her reach, lock it up, etc.  If you have a carrier/sling keep baby in that so you have more freedom to follow her around.  It's tough to deal with unwanted behaviors when you have a newborn, esp. if you're not getting enough sleep, but this phase will pass.


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#6 of 20 Old 03-24-2012, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone! Yes, I do believe in natural consequences. It's hard with a lot of them, though. She painted high on the wall and can't reach it to clean it. She can't brush the dog because our dog is an abuse rescue and she is absolutely petrified of everyone but me, so *I* have to clean her myself. Daddy's office doesn't have a door, no way to keep her out, etc. Maybe it's just because I'm tired that I haven't been able to see the natural, logical consequences for some of these actions.

 

Thanks for the articles. I guess I see now that she's lying not because she doesn't want to get into trouble, but because she wants me to love her and she thinks that by being accepted, she is loved. That actually makes me feel really horrible. :( I'm still not quite sure how to address the issue, but I'll try to start with not getting mad. I've been getting mad at they lying and the actions, not yelling, but telling her how disappointed I am with her and that it makes me feel angry. I guess what the articles are saying is that I need to make her feel more special. I'll see what I can do. It's hard with a new baby, so I guess it will take some time.

 

 


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#7 of 20 Old 04-05-2012, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've tried everything and it's only getting worse. :( Yesterday, DD said she was going potty and instead opened and ate an entire bottle of xyliyol gel. The natural consequence for that is obviously that she can't have any more xylitol gel, but she's not old enough for fluoride toothpaste and the xylitol was my only cavity defense I can use for her.

 

Today we discovered that while claiming she had to poop, she was actually stealing my contact lenses and playing with them. She then ripped both in half and dumped them into the sink. I am beyond livid right now. What is the natural consequence for that?! I can't see, that's what. That doesn't punish her, it punishes me!

 

She doesn't seem to care about anything at all and I am losing my mind. The only option I can see (probably because I'm so mad I can no longer think straight) is to go to the store tomorrow and buy cabinet locks and just lock up my whole house and put everything I own into cabinets. I'm scared I don't have enough storage space for everything. :(

 

I am completely at my wit's end over here!


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#8 of 20 Old 04-05-2012, 08:22 PM
 
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Very gently, I say to you... maybe a couple of mornings at preschool? She might be bored out of her mind at home and you have a new baby to deal with.

More outdoor time, too. I used to keep my "problem" kid at the park for two hours every afternoon until time to start dinner and then he would collapse right after dinner and bath into a blissful night's sleep... giving me some peace.

And you can put hook and eye closures on the outsides up high on certain doors so she can no longer make trouble when you aren't right with her.
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#9 of 20 Old 04-09-2012, 01:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought I had replied, but must have forgotten to hit "submit."

 

She can't go to preschool, but we are members of a homeschool group and she gets to do a special day with them twice a week. She also goes outside as often as I can get her to go out. She just seems to feel more alone out there, though. Plus, she gets into trouble out there, constantly pulling junk out from under the house that isn't safe for her to play with. We live in the country and don't have a second car, so I can't take her anywhere. We are stuck at home except the two days a week we go into town with DH. I can't do that often, though. It is really hard on me and very difficult with a new baby. I'd take her to the park in the evenings when DH gets home, but he doesn't get home until dinnertime and it's already dark and DD has to be in bed as soon as she eats.

 

The hook and eye closures are brilliant! I'm going to go and pick some up this week along with a bunch of childproofing stuff. Thanks!


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#10 of 20 Old 04-09-2012, 08:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amberskyfire View Post

I thought I had replied, but must have forgotten to hit "submit."

She can't go to preschool, but we are members of a homeschool group and she gets to do a special day with them twice a week. She also goes outside as often as I can get her to go out. She just seems to feel more alone out there, though. Plus, she gets into trouble out there, constantly pulling junk out from under the house that isn't safe for her to play with. We live in the country and don't have a second car, so I can't take her anywhere. We are stuck at home except the two days a week we go into town with DH. I can't do that often, though. It is really hard on me and very difficult with a new baby. I'd take her to the park in the evenings when DH gets home, but he doesn't get home until dinnertime and it's already dark and DD has to be in bed as soon as she eats.

The hook and eye closures are brilliant! I'm going to go and pick some up this week along with a bunch of childproofing stuff. Thanks!

I'm not sure a four year old should be outside by herself at all.

Any chance you could drive dh to work and have the car more days each week?

She really needs something to focus on and direct all that energy that she's using to make trouble. A swing set? A trampoline?

But yes, the hook and eye closures will help keep her in just a few rooms that you have "kid proofed" well.
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#11 of 20 Old 04-09-2012, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post


I'm not sure a four year old should be outside by herself at all.
Any chance you could drive dh to work and have the car more days each week?
She really needs something to focus on and direct all that energy that she's using to make trouble. A swing set? A trampoline?
But yes, the hook and eye closures will help keep her in just a few rooms that you have "kid proofed" well.


We live in the country and the yard is fenced and gated all the way around. It's very safe, plus the house is wall-to wall-windows. I only have to sit at my desk on the screened porch and work and I can keep an eye on her the whole time.

 

I can't drive DH to work to keep the car because he works in town and we live so far away. It's a big commute. We could never afford the gas. I do go in with him twice a week and we stay in town with the car, but it is really difficult with a new baby. I can't afford a swing set, but maybe a trampoline would be a great idea! I saw little ones at Target with handlebars on them. Not the huge ones, but it'll do.


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#12 of 20 Old 04-09-2012, 10:19 PM
 
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Whew. Living so rural must be a mixed blessing.

Good luck.
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#13 of 20 Old 04-17-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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I also believe in parenting without punishment so I'm on the same page as you as far as that goes.

Kids in the 3 to 4 range do lie. It's classic and they aren't always completely even aware of the difference between fantasy and reality, like they might wish they hadn't done something and feel like by saying they didn't do it, that'll be the truth. And then they still have very limited self-control, though they're starting to develop it. But anyway talking to her about honesty is going to have limited value at this age as it is probably a bit beyond her as far as development goes. You can set the framework for as she gets older, but I wouldn't expect her to jump on it and get it right now.

So I guess the first thing is to understand that it isn't so much that she's doing something bad as that she's still learning to do good. She just needs help and patience to get there.

The best things to do are to limit access and to keep a closer eye on her. She's still at an age where she's going to get into mischief and will have a hard time stopping herself, athough now that she's 4 she should be within a few months of getting more impulse control.

And then know that she isn't going to tell you the truth and don't ask her questions if you need a real answer. Ask her dad if she's already had vitamins. "No" to her isn't going to register as a lie to her, but as "I want more" or "I wish I hadn't already had some." And if you know she did something she shouldn't, don't ask her if she did it, just proceed with your knowledge that she did. "You knew those were Daddy's cookies. We'll have to lock them up from now on." Though it's very hard for little kids to keep themselves from cookies if they're available, and she might not understand why Daddy gets a stash of cookies when she doesn't. She's very young to really get some of this stuff.

I can't write more but I might come back to this! good luck!
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#14 of 20 Old 04-17-2012, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The thing is that she never was like this to begin with. She was always very responsible and very, very abnormally mature. Until now, she was more on the level with a 7 or 8 y/o mentally and emotionally. I know it sounds weird, but it's true. I never, ever had to worry about her before. She was a stickler for rules and even reminded other kids of the rules when they came over. She has always been so mature. Much older kids loved playing with her because she didn't behave like a young child. She was even self-sufficient. All through my pregnancy, she was able to be alone. She would play in the living room while I took a nap in the bedroom. She gets her own food and drinks. It's only recently that she has started to shut down. I never had to put anything away or up high before. She never EVER got into trouble. Never.

 

I can understand that these things are normal for a kid her age if they have always been doing it, but she seems to have gone completely backwards. She's suddenly not mature anymore. She has gone from sweet, helpful, well-behaved, mature child to total psycho (at least for her, anyway, not psycho for most children). It's got me taking a close look at her diet to see if maybe she has developed some kind of food allergy. Her sister is allergic to gluten and that started around age four. :( Plus, I'm sure it's exacerbated by the fact that I just had a baby and she's not getting as much attention. She's super high-needs, but this all started before I had the baby, just before the beginning of March.

 

It may be developmentally appropriate, it's just really weird for her that it's only just now starting. I can believe that kids start to learn to really lie at four, but what I can't believe is that she confuses fantasy and reality. She has never done that before. She's very literal and totally gets the difference between truth and a lie.


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#15 of 20 Old 04-17-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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I can't address the whole issue, but when this happens here with my 4-yr-old DS -

 

 

Quote:
She painted high on the wall and can't reach it to clean it. She can't brush the dog because our dog is an abuse rescue and she is absolutely petrified of everyone but me, so *I* have to clean her myself.

 

He has to sit on a stool and watch me clean. Sometimes he has to help by holding the cleaning supplies and handing them to me when I ask for them. And sometimes I'm angry or frustrated when I do the cleaning. Me having those emotions are a part of the "natural consequences" of doing stuff that has upsetting consequences for other family members.

 

She might be a *bit* young to understand, but if my son destroyed something expensive like my glasses (with some intent behind it), then I just might say, "I'm sorry, I don't have any money for xxx, I have to save my money so I can buy new glasses."  For him, xxx is primarily meals out from Chipotle, which he absolutely loves, and we get about once a week. If he were to ask for anything else to be purchased, I might continue with the "I don't have any money for that; I'm still putting money in my piggy bank to save for the glasses. Glasses cost a lot of money, and I will have to save for a long time because you broke mine."


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#16 of 20 Old 04-17-2012, 01:00 PM
 
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Young children are literal, but young children don't understand the difference between truth and fantasy, and don't get the idea of lying.

Hmm well I was reading up on this and the article I found shows that around 4 is when they start to lie and get that concept. I thoguht it was older, like 4.5 to 5! So I stand corrected!

Anyway, this article is what I was reading: http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/the-truth-about-lying
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#17 of 20 Old 04-22-2012, 06:15 PM
 
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I think that it's probably not a coincidence that the objectionable behaviors began right before you had your baby. The anticipation of the event/life change could have been alarming to her. She may be old enough to have grasped the seriousness of the change and old enough to feel as though life as she knew it would be turned upside down. 

 

My daughter is 3.5 and a lot of the behaviors you're describing sound similar, but my daughter has always had a streak in her like that. Lately, things have gotten worse and I attribute that to developmental changes. The root cause in my daughter's case, I believe, is her need to be in control. When she behaves "badly", she gets a reaction out of me, and even though that reaction may be negative, I think it's gratifying to her to be able to cause the reaction.  I haven't really figured out a clear effective way for dealing with the problem but the following still helps 1. childproofing - as others have said, keep things hidden/out of sight that you don't want her to have. 2. Re-direction - Physically move her away from the negative activities and direct her towards desirable activities. 3. Plan out an agenda for her. You live in a remote area where it sounds as if there aren't other kids for her to play with. She is active, curious and, possibly now, motivated to do things for attention. I think you need to get serious about giving her a bit of structure and direction about day to day activities. Buy some art supplies, get a sandbox, a tub of water and water toys, a hammock, a swing - whatever you think she may enjoy. Participate in these activities with her whenever possible.

 

I sympathize with you because I'm having a tough time with my daughter lately, too. But my daughter is in preschool, we live in an in town location, I have babysitting help AND I don't have a new baby to deal with. So you've got it much much harder. Good luck!!!

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#18 of 20 Old 04-22-2012, 06:18 PM
 
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P.S. I wouldn't focus on the lying, other than making a quick mention of it. Focus on the primary behaviors and the big picture first. 

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#19 of 20 Old 04-22-2012, 06:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! The structured activities thing isn't working. I was sure it would, but it's not. She's not interested in anything I come up with. I even spent an hour making up a scavenger hunt for her. She walks around the room like she's bored and kicks things and refuses to do anything. "No, I don't want to do that right now" in the most bored voice ever. I tried taking her to the playground this week, but she didn't much care for it. She was bored there, too. She also got really upset because there were no kids there that day that would play with her - not that that's the issue, just that it was one more thing for her to get upset with that day.

 

I am soooo tired. Been trying to get her to take naps with me, but she doesn't fall asleep. Her behavior has been slightly better since I took away her privileges. Not much, but somewhat better. I don't feel like crying anymore, anyway.


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#20 of 20 Old 04-22-2012, 06:47 PM
 
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Any chance your husband could take her into town with him each day and bring her to preschool? My daughter is the type of child who wants to be engaged and involved at all times. When I can't make that happen for her, she ends up getting into trouble. My daughter also loves being around people. She loves observing others and talking to others. Preschool was/is great for her. Some kids do fine with a lot of at-home time. Others need/want more stimulation and activity. Your daughter sounds like one of those kids.

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