Chronic lying - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-17-2017, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Chronic lying

My 11 year old seems to lie on a daily basis, over completely stupid crap. 2 days ago, he drank nearly 2 litres of root beer and then lied straight to our faces. I got him to admit it, we had a talk about the lying, he didn't get any root beer when his brothers did, since it was supposed to be a special treat for everyone to share. Sometime today, he drank some more of it and again, lied straight to our faces that he hadn't done it.

I don't know what to do anymore. He's been doing this for years and it's getting worse. We've talked to him over and over and over about how lying is wrong, that it breaks our trust etc, etc. I'm at my wit's end. My husband is ready to never talk to the kid again because we can't believe a thing he says.

Does anyone have any ideas?

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#2 of 9 Old 03-17-2017, 10:21 PM
 
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Don't give him the chance to lie. Don't ask questions that invite lies. Inviting lying creates a habit out of distrust between you and him, and poisons your relationship ... which will tend in the long run to make him less considerate, less pleasant and more prone to difficult behaviour. And besides, even if you are very suspicious, sometimes he will get away with a lie, which is a very strong positive reinforcer for the behaviour.

If you know (or are 95% sure) that he drank the root beer, don't ask him about it. That's an invitation to lie. His answer isn't going to change your perception: you won't believe him if he denies it. State a fact ("This entire bottle of root beer has disappeared since this afternoon"). If he volunteers a lie anyway ("It wasn't me!") don't get distracted by it; old habits die hard. Just stick to the original issue: someone in the family has thoughtlessly drunk far more than their share and is taking in way too many unhealthy calories. Say it out loud. "It doesn't matter who it is. Not everyone is getting their share, which bothers me, and I also feel badly: it's just so many unhealthy calories." Sigh and express your disappointment. Talk about the value of sharing that you're trying to impart, and how these occurrences are so disappointing. Say all this stuff as if you're just talking aloud to yourself, speaking past him. Don't expect him to admit it and apologize. Just communicate your perspective.

Your objective is to explain how his behaviour is negatively affecting others, without getting bogged down in an argument about whether it's really his behaviour. You know it is. He knows it is.

Good luck!

Miranda
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#3 of 9 Old 03-18-2017, 10:58 AM
 
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Sorry I could have

and maybe already did write this. My son is a habitual liar about EVERYTHING but on a positive note, it's taking less time now to say "Mea Culpa" I lied and it was dumb to lie. I think it may partly be an immaturity/impulse control thing. My son will lie to you about stupid trivial things like the flavour of his soup to more serious things like failing his classes. I don't know how many times we've had the talk" about liars and how lying will probably just get you into further and further troubles, we've lived through SO MANY situations where another person might have learned their lesson and altered their behaviour (because of the serious consequences resulting from his lying), my son just gets better at lying. SIGH. It has totally undermined the relationship we (everybody in this family and probably his teachers at school too) have with him. He has never really been punished for lying other than consequences either natural or not. I keep opening myself up (trying to rebuild trust) and getting burned over and over ad naseum.
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#4 of 9 Old 03-19-2017, 03:48 AM
 
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It's got to be the most frustrating.

One thing I would say is to be sure to do a thorough self examination on the issue of lying for the adults in the home. Kids are terribly alert and will pick up on the smallest trend and run with it. So if any adults have been in the habit of telling any lies at all, the kids have noticed. Things like "we can't come tonight, we have a commitment" (when you really don't and you just don't want to go and the kids know it) or "I don't have any money" (when they know you do but you just don't want to spend it on that). To kids there is not a big difference, so if the grown ups have used any lies over the years, it may be time to do a family re-commitment to truth telling, even when it is difficult. If the whole family is going to work on it, it will be easier for your son to come along. "I know I lied to your teacher that time when you weren't really sick but I'm going to commit myself to only telling the truth from this day on."

So I"m not blaming you for this, it's just a thing to pay attention to and one that sometimes parents don't "see" for themselves, because the kids were in on the lie and therefore shouldn't have picked it up and thought they could do it too.

Aside from that, be careful that you know for certain that something is real before accusing him of lying. Then don't let steam come out of your ears. You could try simply saying "when you're ready" to tell us what really happened, that is when "X" privilege will resume. And go about your business. Simply remove whatever privilege is most fitting--natural consequences are best, so something related to the problem at hand, or an electronic device if that would be more powerful. But consequences cannot be given if anyone in the home is still getting away with lying, even on little teeny weeny items.

This is an important one to nail. When he is a teenager, you need to be able to trust what he is telling you.

 











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#5 of 9 Old 03-19-2017, 06:01 AM
 
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if that reply was directed at me

Number one: we do not lie about things, it goes against the grain of everything we (as a family) stand for. We don't have a big enough social circle to employ lies on, my hubby is self employed and I'm marginally employed. My husband is so g-d honest and so motivated to help out his friends he'll help them out when's he's ill or it's against his personal interests. And I, even when regularly employed never ever lied to get days off, I've gone even when I've been ill or it's personally inconvenient. I or my hubby, never even skipped classes in school, which my son tries to do a lot now. Number two: my son is a teen and we've been dealing with this for years and years, it's only at this point he more readily admits to it. Number three: the lies become fairly self evident, for one thing he's an only, for another we get corroboration from other sources like teachers. And like I've said, sometimes the lies are so trivial I just don't get why he's doing it, it literally gets him nothing in return, although those trivial lies are reducing in favour of the more serious ones. I've tried so hard not to carry things forward, to not make things into a prolonged agonized thing. Like the other mom, my kid could be standing right in front of me saying he's eating a bowl of cheerios when he's eating corn flakes. My son has also mastered the "sell" where he'll tell people the truth he thinks they want to hear. He does seem cut out for politics which he finds so interesting.
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#6 of 9 Old 03-19-2017, 07:26 AM
 
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Mumto1, the reply wasn't directed at you. It is a general concept, and many parents I know honestly didn't see the 'little white lies' as modeling for their child. They just didn't think of it! So I mention it just as a general thing so that people can reflect and make sure they are being scrupulously honest themselves. So if that is true for you, "check!" I was thinking of the OP, whose child is not yet a teen.

I always like to ask people too, though, if their child that lies, reminds them of anyone in the family or extended family? As time goes on we learn that more and more things that we thought were purely 'social' in origin, are sometimes genetic predispositions!

 











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#7 of 9 Old 03-19-2017, 04:27 PM
 
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the genetic angle is no comfort

We have issues with the men on both sides of our families, and yes it has definitely been on my mind practically since I found out I was having a boy. I kept my son away from one family member who has a lot of issues for precisely that reason.
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#8 of 9 Old 03-19-2017, 07:34 PM
 
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Agree with Miranda, I would avoid placing him in a position to lie. I would also ask him to make some retribution to his brothers... maybe buy root beer for them out of his pocket money?
I would also try to make it less of a "forbidden fruit". Maybe have some once a week? Or give each kid a couple of cans and let them control when they drink them?
My preteen is pretty trustworthy, but whenever he tried stretching the truth it was mostly because he wanted more control over things. For example i once caught him reading under the blanket with a flashlight after bedtime; so we sat down the next morning and we pushed back bedtime to a time we were both comfortable with.
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#9 of 9 Old 03-21-2017, 06:29 AM
 
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I agree with not "setting him up to lie". Don't ask, "who left their stuff in the middle of the floor?" Say, "Johnny, you left your stuff in the middle of the floor. Please come clean it up." Johnny says, "Wasn't me." Don't engage the lie. Just repeat your requirement. And hold your ground until the problem is solved. I like the book The Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolf.


With the root beer, I'd say, "Johnny, you drank the rootbeer that was for everyone!" Him: "No, I didn't" You: "Get your birthday money. We're going to the store right now so you can replace the root beer. That was for everyone and you stole it from them and you're going to replace it." Him: "It wasn't me!" You: "Get your birthday money. Let's go." Just don't engage the lie. It's not worth it to argue if the sky is blue or not. He knows the truth, you know the truth, everyone knows the sky is blue. You don't need to play any sort of semantics. (I didn't drink the rootbeer, I sipped it through a straw. The sky is more of an azure color.) Don't go there. No one wins those arguments.
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