What do you do when your kid repeatedly, deliberately, lies about what is going on. For example, when I catch his arm on the way to smacking me, he says "I just want to put my hand here" and then holds it out in the same place it would have hit me but when there is no other reason to have his hand out like that. Or when you watch him rip a box and then he says "you ripped it!" or "it was already ripped".
Penelope Leach says they say these things because they WISH they were true. And they don't really understand the difference between pretend and reality at this point, right? So to argue with them might be pointless. And to reprimand them for lying might be unfair.
But I can't let him get away with refusing to take responsibility for his actions, can I?
I tend to ignore the lie altogether and focus on what the child can do to remedy the situation. He's done something he knows he should do, he's probably a bit embarrassed and is trying to avoid you being angry at him. It's also a developmental milestone, believe it or not. It means that he's understood that you can have thoughts that are different than the thoughts he has (Theory of Mind). What he hasn't mastered yet is that idea that if you witness the same thing, then your thoughts and his thoughts are pretty much the same!
So, when you catch his hand and he says "I just wanted to touch you" I would say something like "Just remember, it needs to be a gentle touch." For the ripping the box, I'd say something like "Well, the box is ripped, how can we fix that now?" It might mean putting the food that was in it into another container. It might mean taping up the box. Once you've done that, you can say something like "If you're having trouble with a box, maybe I can help next time." But if you focus on what should be done rather than what has been done, it helps him move on.
In other words, you don't have to acknowledge his version of reality, but you don't have to get into a fight about it either. I suspect this will be a short-lived phase.
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