This morning Lily looked straight at Rob, and lied.
Not about anything big. Rob said, “Did you do breakfast hokey?” (One of her jobs this week, running the hokey over the rug tiles under the bar where they eat breakfast.)
And she said, “yes.”
And she hadn’t.
I knew she hadn’t. I knew it by the half smile, and by the fact that I’d been in the kitchen all morning.
Rob said, “really?” And Lily said “yes,” again.
“She’s lying,” I said, and Lily laughed her little uncomfortable laugh.
And there it was. Lily does lie, and we know it. Know it to the point where we won’t check on Sam or Wyatt for some things, like whether they brushed their teeth, but will on Lily every time. She lies to make herself look better. Exaggerates the number of minutes she’s read on her sheet for school. Lies to protect herself. Lies because it seems easier. Lies about her jobs, likes about who’s hit who, lies about whether she was the one who messed up the art supplies or didn’t throw away her popsicle stick. We catch her every time and it doesn’t matter. She still keeps lying.
I was torn. It seemed like time for a big come-down, but what? The most obvious thing was to make her miss her new afternoon gymnastics class. But I already paid for that. It’s all set. I didn’t want to make her miss it. Maybe, I thought, I could tell her that she was invited for a sleepover Friday night and now she can’t go!
But that would be a lie. Oh yeah. Then Lily piped up from the back seat (knowing, on the ride to school, that I was thinking about how to punish her) “Am I not going to gymnastics?” So there it was–the obvious punishment, and we both knew it. She came home from school at two (it’s early release day), giving up our usual go-for-a-snack together and went straight to her room until gymnastics would have been over at 4:30.
Not without comment, mind you. There were tears. But she got over it. She stayed. (I think she enjoyed being alone.) And maybe it will teach her something, although I kinda doubt it.
And then we went to the farmer’s market, and then we came home, and she made 49 ravioli to take to her classroom tomorrow for her “unique week” snack all by herself. I rolled out the dough, and she stuffed and folded. That’s my girl. Unfortunately, that lying child who wants to make herself look good, or get out of trouble? That’s my girl too.
Just from a PonT perspective: She is the lier of the family. That is the place that she has made for herself and will continue to be that until she’s given the choice to be something different. I’m not the best at this, but I have had several discussions with Vicki and other PonT mom’s about this kind of thing. Do you have the home program? I think it’s the first lesson where she talks about the little girls who whines. As attention is brought to it by her family she continues to whine. When her teacher doesn’t acknowledge her when she is whining she is “at choice for the first time to be someone else.”
I had a similar experience, can’t remember what it was exactly, but I talked to Vicki and she said, “Stop setting your kids up for failure! If you know they haven’t done something, don’t ask them if they have, giving them the opportunity to lie.” Just ask them to go and do it. If she says they already has, then say let’s go check together. When it’s obvious she hasn’t just ask her if she thinks it’s the best she can do. If she says yes, say okay, walk away and see what happens. I’d be surprised if she will be content with that answer from you. **Remember she is the lier. She is waiting for you to tell her she’s not telling the truth.** If she walks away then you put focus on training her how to do the chore. Even if you already know she knows how to do it.
As for a popsicle sticks and toys that are “no one” got out. I have two approaches to this. One, just ask one of your children to pick stuff up and throw it away. If you know it’s Lily’s ask her to throw the stick away. If she says it’s not hers say, “That’s okay, but could you help me by throwing it away?” The reality is we all have to clean up other people’s messes. So even if it’s not their trash or mess, I still ask my kids to clean things up they didn’t do. We are a family that works together to run a successful house. We aren’t working together as a united family if we are on responsible and willing to pick up and be responsible our own stuff. Second approach, when it comes to toys and such is to say, “Feel free to pick up anything you want to keep / anything that is yours. I’ll take care of the rest.” Anything left out goes in the trash. Extreme? Yes, but I guarantee you, the next time you say it, things will be picked up. If there is something in there that YOU want for them to have or you know it is their favorite, maybe pick it up and put it away for awhile. Somethings are very special and need to be saved by the parent. But most stuff is just that stuff that no one wants to take care of because they really don’t care about it.
I have used both. Not always successfully. I’m not good at follow through. I think I’ll take this as a challenge to do so. 🙂 All this said, I would never take away/ throw away my kids lovey. I would just put it in their bed. I’m a softy that way and it would make bedtime really. really bad here. I’m just not up for the tantrum and fight about it.
But that’s me. Do what works for you. But do your best to set her up for success and not feed the lier weed. Feed something more positive and let her become someone else in your family.
Oh, that’s such a helpful reminder! I’ve been thinking that I need to revisit my cds. In particular, I’d forgotten that it’s ok just to not give her a CHANCE to lie. And that damn role stuff. You’re right, she’s kind of enjoying having this to set her apart.
I think changing the focus to teaching her how to do it right–as though she really HAD done whatever, as though she WAS telling some kind of truth–that’s going to be brilliant. I’m not sorry I did this, though. Maybe it wasn’t the right consequence, but it was a consequence!
The PonT stuff is a helpful reminder to me too. Just wanted to add that Nurture Shock has a fascinating chapter on lying. The whole book is well worth reading actually.
I love that book! I hate it when Po and Ashley say that you have to take tattletales seriously, or they’ll stop coming to you, though. All I can think is really? Because people, if I took it all seriously that is all I would ever do. We would have to convene a court in the house to resolve it all, quit school and work and do nothing but sort out who whacked who when. Come on, guys, how many kids do you have? One each?