Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lying

This is another topic weighing heavily on my mind. Julian is with Kevin this weekend, and he'd told Kevin he had a blue day at school (the best kind) and gotten a sticker. This is something easily verified - all either of us has to do is look in Julian's folder that comes home from school and see if there's a sticker on the calendar for that day. Kevin looked at the folder, and not only was there a sticker, but there were notes from the teacher. Julian continues to struggle with things like talking out of turn and playing when he should be listening. So Kevin called me to give me the heads up and to tell me that he and Julian had a little talk about the importance of honesty.

The problem is not that Julian got into a little trouble in class. This happens. He's a chatty kid, and he's got a hard time turning it off. Brian said he was the same way in the early years of school, and that it took him until second grade or so to figure out that he needed to be still and listen in class rather than be running his mouth. No, the problem is that Julian told his father a bald-faced lie about it. To my knowledge, I've never told Julian a lie (OK, other than telling him I had no idea what Santa might bring him for Christmas). He's not seeing that behavior here at home. And for him to lie about something that's so easily verified bothers me. He told Kevin he lied because he was afraid he'd get into trouble for getting the note, and Kevin told him no, he wasn't upset about Julian getting a note from the teacher, but he was upset that Julian felt the need to be dishonest about it.

So, parents who are farther along the road in raising your kids and wiser than me, what's the best tack to take with this? Would the punishment be too far removed from the crime to have consequences for the lie here at home (I'm thinking of taking away Wii time, because that's the thing he loves more than anything)? He's six years old - is that old enough to connect what happened yesterday with what happens tomorrow when he gets back home? I don't want him to grow up thinking it's OK to lie to get out of trouble, and I'm just not sure how best to nip this in the bud now and help him realize that he can be honest with me, with Kevin, and with Brian about anything, that a lie will get him in more hot water than whatever the truth is.

3 comments:

danelle said...

I'll be honest with you, I always think you are too lenient..but that's your decision, you're the mom. I think with this tho you better make the punishment swift and memorable. And have a talk too, obviously he WANTS to do well or he wouldn't be lying about it.

Lisa said...

Well, part of the problem is that it can't exactly be swift. He told the lie on Friday, and won't be back here until Sunday. I don't know if a punishment from me will be near enough in time to the lie to really mean anything to him or not - it may be too far removed in time for him to really make that connection. I know he wants to do well, and if he honestly can't, then that's one thing. And he may just need to grow up a little more to behave really well in class, I don't know. I want to make sure, though, that whatever I do and whatever I say, he doesn't get the impression that he's better off hiding things from me - I want him to know that he'll be in less trouble for whatever the truth is than he will be if he does lie about it and I find out later (because you know mamas always find things out!). So that's the balance I'm trying to figure out how to strike - letting him know that lying is unacceptable, making sure the punishment is something he can relate to the fact that he told a lie, and not making him afraid to tell me the truth about anything.

Katla Sanford said...

A good parenting book can help; I love "Raising a Son" by Don and Jeanne Elium. I can't remember when I went through this with my son, who is now 8, but we talked about lying and consequences, and I asked him how he would feel if I lied to him, and asked him what he thought was an appropriate punishment. I don't believe in video games for small children anyway but I would certainly take away some privilege that he enjoyed and make it known that it would continue to happen if he lied again.