What do you do when your child starts lying? I literally Googled that exact phrase this week! I have been talking to both of the kids for a while now about being honest, and how important honesty is in life, for the rest of your life not just right now! This is the story of how our sweet, innocent little peanut who hates getting in trouble went from over honest to lying about some pretty big stuff in just a matter of a couple months.
Lying is normal, as much as we would all like to say we don’t lie, we all do. Some people lie about stupid crap that makes no difference at all and some of us tell little white lies to spare someones feelings or embarrassment. Either way, we all do it and kids are no different. So when we first started noticing some tall tales and stories that didn’t quite add up, we let it go. We didn’t call her out and explain why it is important to tell the truth, we just giggled – she is a kid, kids make stuff up! She just has a great imagination! And, honestly, that is true. Our kids are both very smart, creative and imaginative. I would HATE to be the person who did anything to stop or even slow that creativity. My kids are destined for great things in this world and I want to support them in any way possible! (yes, I am certainly biased, but they blow my mind everyday and I am not afraid to brag a bit ;))
There hasn’t been any signs that this creative jabber was an issue, we never labeled it lying, just another crazy kid story! Until school started this year and something changed. New friends, new teacher, new surroundings (Kindergarten is at a different school in our district, so she switched schools with half of her friends from last year) I started noticing that her stories weren’t jiving and she just didn’t seem that excited about school in general – but I just (again) assumed that she just lost a little of that kindergarten excitement. Then she got in trouble in school. Nothing major, but enough for her teacher to call me, concerned. She had gone to the nurse’s office multiple times – without asking. She told me that she asked her teacher, with a completely unapologetic face. I was stunned. She lied straight to my face. So I explained to her that I talked to her teacher and the nurse and that isn’t what they told me, still she held to her story. So we talked extensively about telling the truth and she went to bed early for the rest of that week.
I was getting nervous
I had a nagging feeling that something else was going on. Why would she lie to me, there is no reason – she wasn’t in trouble, I was just talking to her! So I started asking if something else was bothering her – maybe someone is picking on her and she was trying to get away from it? Maybe she felt uncomfortable about something but thought she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone? So We talked about that and then she broke down in tears and said there were 2 boys picking on her before school. So we talked about that and how she needs to talk to her teacher and especially to me. No matter what she can talk to me – but she has to be honest with me. I can’t help her if she lies, because that trust factor will be gone and I can’t stick up for someone if I am not 100% certain that I know the whole story! So I talked to her teacher about it and things seemed better!
Embarrassing teacher conference
Last week we had parent teacher conferences. She is doing great, right where she needs to be and we are super proud of her! After we had gone through all of her work and the testing they do, her teacher congratulated us on the new baby! WHAT?! Apparently, she was led to believe that I was expecting and that my sister in law had a new baby…. uuummm… I tried not to embarass her, but we were shocked. “There is no baby”, and I kind of laughed it off, giving my 6 year old a look of confusion and anger all wrapped into one! Then her teacher told us she knew there was no baby and that she could tell that she was not being honest when she was talking about it, but that she wanted to bring it to our attention. My sweet 6 year old started talking about something else-asking to use the iPad of all things- like what her teacher just announced was no big deal at all. Oh boy, my face was probably as red as a tomato.
You might be thinking, that is no big deal. This is just a 6 year old telling white lies to look cool or have something to brag about or maybe a competition with another kid in the class. Yup, you’re right! But we did talk about it and again there were consequences.
Then shit got real
I was at a coffee shop getting some work done (sometimes you NEED to get out of the house… or cloffice!) when I get a text from my husband, asking if I knew that a friend of our daughter’s was getting off the bus at our house. WHAT?! OH, NO she didn’t! I said that we could have a play date after I meet this girl’s parents, which hasn’t happened yet as that conversation was just a couple days ago! So I called this girl’s mom and she didn’t know either! The kicker… this girl looked right at my husband and told him that her mom had sent a note to school that morning and knew all about it! I have never packed my things up and gotten home so quickly. Not only were they sneaky (the bus driver didn’t even notice when this girl got off at our house) but they both lied about it and acted like it wasn’t a big deal.
So, I preceded to explain how big of a deal this actually was. What if I wasn’t able to get a hold of her mom? What if her mom had called the school to figure out why her kid didn’t get off the bus, then the police got involved, then they find this girl at MY house… I went a little off the deep end. I wanted to scare her. I want her to know that being dishonest affects everyone around her, not just her. Crazy? Maybe… but I’m OK with that!
My husband and I talked about what exactly it means to “ground” a 6 year old. I Pinterest-ed it. I Googled it. We took a shot of tequila. (‘to being parents’) And then we packed up everything the girl owns and put it in her closet… no joke. My little girl now has a bed, sheets, a blanket, a pillow and her books. That is all. We talked to her for about 5 minutes while we took her stuff away and then walked away. This made her realize that what was happening was for real. She has been sweet and polite ever since! She still doesn’t seem too upset about being grounded, I think she thinks it means we think she is old enough to be grounded then that is awesome! (haha, did you follow that?!) She also is not allowed to spend any time with this other girl, the neighbor kids or do anything extra and fun, even hockey until she earns back our trust and can be responsible.
Unfortunately for her, this just reinforces what we already know, she is super smart. She lied and talked her way out of it and I am pretty sure that is why she is so sweet and polite right now that my teeth hurt, she thinks we’ll let her off the hook… NOT! I found a great thing on Pinterest for dealing with this situation. It was a Huffington Post blog post and I have seen it before, so I decided to use it and tweak it a bit to fit our household. I am kind of excited about this!!
Earn your privileges back with a point system!
Here is the original list, I have decided to implement this and not just for when you’re grounded… but I don’t think my kids will ever come to me and say they are bored, either! 😉
Here is the logic. If we set a time limit on her grounding, it might suck, but she will just deal with it knowing that at the end of that time-frame, life goes back to normal. SO – we are going to make her earn our trust and show us that she can be responsible for her actions. There is a list of chores and each is assigned a point value. I think that depending on what the infraction is, you can decide how many points they need to earn back. We decided on 500 points. (notice that each job is no more than 25 points) The part of this that will really make an impact is that if she/they slip up, I can take those points back! I also included a few sticks that say ‘mercy’, I am going to use this as an opportunity to explain forgiveness.
How I did it
I wrote each job on a popsicle stick and assigned a point value. All of the sticks are in a small mason jar – make sure you have enough sticks to reach the goal. (You could also use slips of paper in a jar) They decide when they will draw a stick, how many they will do, and how long they will be ‘grounded’ I also think I will use this as a tool to end boredom! If you’re bored… pick a stick! 🙂 Right now, I have a second jar so when she completes a job, the stick goes into her ‘done’ jar and when she gets to 500 points, she gets her privileges back. If she slips up… those ‘done’ sticks can get put back into the other jar! We are just implementing this today, I will update you when she gets to 500!!
Have you dealt with this yet? What are your recommendations? Do you think this is a good system? I would love to hear what you think!! Also, please share this with your friends and family – you never know who this may help! Thank you in advance!
Download your FREE PDF version of the list and rules here! Bored or Grounded PDF