Friday, May 16, 2008

What Do You Do When Your Child Lies?

What Do You Do When Your Child Lies?I received an interesting email this week and want to see what your thoughts are on the matter:

Hi, this is way off topic but I thought I would ask you for some advice. I just found out that my 12 year-old son forged my signature on a note sent home by his teacher. Then when I found it, he continued to lie about it. As I sit here eating crow and popping anti acids I am clueless as what to do. I've asked to meet with two of his teachers and told him that all TV, video games, and computers are out of bounds for him. But how long can I do that? Any suggestions? I'm desperate. Have your kids done this? Please say yes, I don't want to think that I'm alone on this one. OK, deep breaths and some chocolate and a few hours of sleep should put this in perspective. Right?

I'd almost like to say nothing more, but leave this open to comments and see what you have to say but I don't want to cop out on you here. I'll tell you what I said in response but then I want to hear if you've had similar experiences and what you did--I'd especially like to hear from those of you with older children. With my oldest at 14 I've had some exposure to this but not as much as many of you out there.

Most kids lie at one time or another, so don't panic.
This doesn't mean it's a good thing but it means that it's pretty much to be expected. It's human nature to want to create an alternate reality to escape a difficult situation so don't think it means you've failed as a mother if you find your child lying. It also means that if your child has never told a lie they're probably either a million-to-one anomaly in the system or you've been blissfully ignorant. Don't get me wrong, there's no finger pointing here, one of my own children has been caught many times telling lies and it's made me wonder secretly if the others are just better at it so they don't get caught as much. Hard to tell. The point is, you almost have to expect that it will happen sooner or later, let's hope you catch them sooner than later so you can deal with it.

Children need to know you love them.
No matter what, whether they're telling the truth or not, they need to know this and it comes from repetitive actions and words that reflect your love over the years--not just during the confrontation over the misdeed. However, just as important, they need to know that forgery and lying are wrong, that they've disappointed you by doing something dishonest and that despite what they might think or see in the world around them, being dishonest has significant consequences. Bad consequences.

Children need to know how you feel about honesty.
Not just by your words at that particular crisis moment but by your own example of being honest every day. They're watching you and learning from you--do they see you giving back extra change at the grocery store, avoiding the little white lies, telling the truth and giving back what you borrow? They're pretty smart and your example will have a lot of weight when it comes to how they feel about being honest themselves.

Punish the child for two separate offenses.

I would also tell my child that they're being punished for two different things--one punishment for the forgery and then another separate punishment for the lie and I'd make the second punishment worse than the first.

Now . . . as for specific punishments, that's up for you to decide because you know your child best, what they value and what would make the greatest impression on them. Don't make it so harsh that they feel they'll never recover--especially for a first offense--but make it harsh enough to convey your sincerity and intent. If you can't trust them, perhaps taking away privileges that require trust--being with friends, having free time, etc., would be appropriate.

Teach that trust is earned.
As Andrew explained to our kids, trust is like the rungs on a ladder, with each trustworthy and honest action being the equivalent of one step. But, with just one lie or dishonest action instead of stepping back one step you slide all the way to the bottom of the ladder. It's not fair but that's how trust works: a lifetime to build, a minute to destroy. Once you've slid to the bottom it doesn't mean you can't climb up again, it just means you've lost what you'd gained before and have to prove yourself all over again.

Don't be surprised--or give up--if the child does it again.
These things take time and consistency and slip-ups will probably occur. But stick with it. That's where the love part comes in--show them that you're willing to forgive and teach and care no matter what but be firm in your standards of behavior for them and for yourself. Just because they do it again doesn't mean your technique isn't working, it just means your child is human and probably needs more time to learn (don't we all?) Don't write-off your efforts as a failure if they don't get immediate results, you're in this for the long haul anyway, right?

***

And I know this is very late but there were some issues with the prize going unclaimed this week and I had to do a redraw but at any rate, Dorit Sasson at Pieces of Me was this week's giveaway winner and has won the lovely biwa stick pearl earrings from jaC Jewelry. Congratulations to her! I'll be posting a double-prize giveaway tomorrow so stick around.

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Nip Cancer in the BudKaren at Simply a Musing Blog is hosting a Nip Cancer in the Bud segment at her blog and is taking questions that will be put to some Texas oncologists about cancer. If you have anything for the experts nip on over to Karen's place to leave her a message. She'd love to hear from you. Tell her hi for me.

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40 comments:

MRMacrum said...

The first thing I would say a parent should do in this or any other negative situation with their children is first ask themselves, "Did I do this as a kid?"

Chances are they did or they had a sibling who screwed up. Keep that in mind when correcting behaviour. All too often we adults conveniently forget the activities of our own youth when addressing the shenanigans of our children.

When we ask ourselves if we did this, we should evaluate what our response and feeling was when caught and what was done to correct our own behaviour. Sometimes, what was used on us is exactly the wrong thing to do. Sometimes it is. It is a mixed bag when I remember what my parents did in certain situations.

I used this as my own guide when dealing with my child. In that I was a troublemaker and punk as a kid, my approach was never to accuse or belittle, but to point out the stupidity of the action. Been there done that kind of thing.

If we expect honesty from our children, we must be honest ourselves. Kids are not stupid. They learn most habits, good and bad, from the eniviroment around them.

An example I use often is my own experience with "The Drug Talk". I began the process when Lis was 8 or 9 and she was bringing home DARE information. I explained to her in pretty graphic detail my own negative experience and lost years to drugs. I told her that I did not expect her to not try drugs, but that if she did, she was flirting with disaster. Blah, blah blah.

In other words I was honest about my own experience to the point that it hurt to tell my innocent child of the experience. I do not know if it did the trick, but as far as I know she has been drug free her whole life.

Once again - Good post, good advice.

Shalee said...

These are some mighty good words, Michelle. I would only add that on the punishment, it's got to be something that really matters to them.

I find that physical work is an excellent source for trying to get a point across. When The Boy was caught in a lie, he had to go around and pick up all the twigs in our yard. ALL of them. Did you know that we have 10 mature trees on our small lot? I told him to make one big pile and as it grew, I pointed out that this was his trust that he was trying to gather back; it's long, hard, back-breaking work, but he needed to see that it could be found again when he tried to find it again.

I would then find small ways to test his understanding of being honest. He's got to earn it back, but that can only happen if I give him opportunities to do so.

My mom always said, "I'll trust you until you show me that you can't be trusted." That's probably why I never realized that I had the perfect room for sneaking out of the house until the week before my marriage. I didn't want to waste the trust she had in me. (Well that and I had too much fun when I was legally out that I had no desire to "escape" when I came back home.)

Kristy said...

I remember someone wise once telling me that often kids lie because of fear... fear of being caught out or whatever? But anyway... having a lesser punishment for telling the truth can sometimes encourage openness. It sometimes works with my son anyway.

sachin said...

Kristy is right...might be fear.

Just calm down,
sit with your child,
listen to him/her,
try to be his/her friend.

then see he magic :-))

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Punish, but don't overreact. As you said, all kids will lie at one time or another (most, anyway). And at a certain time of their adolescent lives, they'll lie and deny they lied, all in the same breath. I remember my teen Anna having a tantrum and shoving a kitchen stool across the kitchen and into our dishwasher, which it dented. I said, "Look what you did!" and she said, "I didn't do that!"

Sometimes kids are not rational, you know? Just like grown-up human beings.

I know parents whose kids lie to their faces, and they never know. If you try to tell them, the parents accuse you (the grown-up!) of lying.

Chief Family Officer said...

Wow, tough issue. Can I keep my kids from growing up?

As awful as this is, I agree with mrmacrum that it's important to maintain perspective. Of course I lied as a teenager, so I at least won't be too surprised when my kids do. Disappointed, yes. Shocked, no. What will I do?

I love all of the suggestions so far. I know that I lied because I was afraid of how angry my parents would be about whatever I'd done wrong. So I think the idea of punishing the lying worse than the forgery is a solid one. And, of course, much reassurance that the child is still loved couldn't hurt.

Amanda said...

I haven't got anything serious or wise to add. I remember doing something similar when I was a child and I seem to have turned out okay. Just to show you that all kids do something similar - a pal of my younger son, when they were about 8, got hold of his big brother's lad's magazines. He and my son cut out the pictures, took them to school and sold them to their friends. They made quite a haul before they were caught! He's turned into a super young man, as I'm sure your lad will too.

Lis Garrett said...

Well, you pretty much summed up what I was going to say!

Hannah (almost 9) began lying this year, a lot. I totally flipped out at first, because I was raised by a father who would probably have sent me to the guillotine for lying if that were an option.

I did everything from YELL and cry (oh yes, I cried in front of her, I was so upset) to make her write 300 times, "I will not lie." And guess what? She continued to lie. Basically, what I was doing had no impact on her . . . until she realized she had broken my trust and that I couldn't take her word even over the small stuff.

Hannah still hasn't earned my trust back completely. Now, I really try NOT to overreact. I realized that the way I was handling the situation was causing her to be fearful of coming to me in the first place.

I don't think there is a one-answer-fits-all solution. You definitely have to find out what works best for you and your child.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Besides all the great things you mention these are what we do in our home:
1. I let my kids know that I understand the temptation of lying. Adults are not immune to lying either. I tell them that even to this day I get tempted to lie to make things easier but that I catch myself and tell the truth just as fast as I can.

2. I give them a chance out. So, if they lie to me and I ask a second time and they are able to apologize and say they lied they will not be punished, but if I have to ask more than that the lie is punishable. This way, if a lie just slips out without thinking, the kids don't feel they need to continue lying to avoid punishment.

3. Our punishment for lying, seperate from their action, is that they loose all trust for 1-3 weeks (or more depending on the seriousness of the situation). This means that I ask them questions multiple times, never believing them, and if their word comes up against another's the other person gets the benefit of a doubt. This works wonders as the kids can't stand to not be trusted when they are obviously telling the truth, but it shows them the way perpetual lyers are treated/thought of.

4. I openly and quickly apologize for any white lie I might tell them (like telling them the ice cream is all gone when it isn't). This helps them to see that it is a grown up action to fix the mistake of lying.

Heather said...

DO NOT back down from the punishment you decide on. I remeber doing things as a teen/pre-teen and not caring that I got punished because I KNEW thet I could get out of the punishment by whining, begging, acting good for a little bit ect. Stick to it. I was not a horrible kid - no drugs,didn't cut school, but too many boys and lied about where I was after school, homework ect.

My mom wanted to be my freind,DON'T. You are not his freind , you're his MOM andit's yur job to teach responsibility, honor, dignity, and morality. Had I been well trained as a kid, I would have had less problems as a teen and young adult - it takes alot to learn it on your own. I did - and I am a (relativly!) normal person now, an get compliments on my kids behavior (they are 5 and 7 though) becuse I am teaching it now instead of letting stuff slide like my mom did.

(Sorry I hijacked your comments Michelle!)

allysha said...

I have a bro who could not bear to be caught doing something wrong. It just killed his sensitive little soul, he felt so bad about it, and so admitting to it was really, really hard for him. He had to be handled in a very sensitive manner about the whole thing. He was not a bad kid at all, obviously. Of course, lying is not something that was ever condoned at my house.

Which just shows you never can be sure of someone's motivations. And as a parent it's good to try and look at all the angles before jumping in, though jump in you must!

Karen said...

Boy, this is terrific advice for me to heed myself with my daughter, who is 11. I know the time will come when I have to deal with this, because I did the very same thing with my mom. I think a lot of kids go through it, some without even understanding or knowing why. To this day, I still don't have any clear answers as to why I'd lie to my mom (fear? growing up? wanting to distance myself?)but I do remember how she reacted when she found out:

1. She was always calm and appeared more hurt than angry. It was written all over her face that I'd 'betrayed' her trust.

2. She always made the punishement fit the crime and stuck to it. She NEVER backed off of a grounding or anything else for good behavior. She saw it through to the bitter end.

3. She never made me feel as if I was a horrible person for doing it and related everything back to what the Bible has to say about liars and how God abhors a lying tongue (which ALWAYS made me cry)

4. We ended everything with a prayer and usually hugs and tears on both our parts.

*And thanks, Michelle for directing some folks over to my place! Your participation is SO VERY appreciated!

tjhirst said...

Michelle, your advice is well-thought out, and I'm not sure that I could add much. But I have dealt with lying a lot, mostly from younger children, and "forgetting" from older children.

The question that I would pose to each parent would be: Is there a consistent pattern to the lying or is this a one time offense? Michelle's advice will help both in that it will prevent problems before they become a pattern and she recommends good consequences for one-time offenses.

When lying becomes a pattern, however, that is a whole new parenting game that is so individual to the parent, child and circumstances that you need to follow those principles but design a consistent plan to resolve the problems long-term.

Big issue, not a lot of easy answers, like most of parenting.

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

I just read an article about this...I wish I had saved the link. Part of the article said that kids will lie because we teach them to. Something as seemingly benign as telling a kid to tell grandma they love the gift she bought them (when the kid doesn't like it) teaches them that lying is OK. Kids don't understand that we adults sometimes tell "little white lies" to be polite. They think a lie is a lie and if its ok to tell grandma we like the gift we really don't like, then its ok to tell Mom "I didnt' do it" when we really did.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

Don't wonder if your child will do it again or not. He will. As long as you are firm , fair and consistent, you will be the better parent.

beth - total mom haircut said...

I JUST posted about this but for much younger children. That was so weird to come over here and see that subject heading since I just got done asking this question. Again though, I've got a much younger kid on my hands. Different but this is still very helpful for me since I WAS TOTALLY TAKEN BY SURPRISE.

Thanks, Michelle.

Linds said...

I am a great deal older than most of you, ladies. And of course I have seen my children lie. They are human. I forged my Mother's signature in my homework book when I was 8 and was found out, and Mum just looked at me, with such sad eyes, and said....I love you dearly, but you have really disappointed me. I expected more from you. Then she walked away.

No punishment, but it took weeks to regain her trust, and smiling eyes. I was devastated. Punishing actions by witholding material things does not work for me.

So I have used a version of this with my own children. If I catch them out,like my teenage son telling me that whoever ate all the cheese, it wasn't him, I look at him with a faint grin, and say...would you care to rethink that, seeing that there are just 2 people in this house, and I am quite certain I never touched it???

He always retracts, and alopogises. It seldom happens any more. I am quite open about my own failings. I also make sure my kids know that perfection is not really attainable or expected, and that we all fall short one way or another.

Withholding approval is a very powerful thing.

So this is a long winded way of saying that we need to lead by example. I have a saying here, which has stood me in good stead. I tell my kids I always love them, but there are times when I do not like the things they do very much. They all talk freely to me. And they absolutely HATE it when I am distant, or disappointed.

Excellent point about not being your child's friend, but rather their mother. It is not my job to be popular.

My youngest is now 19 and my oldest is 31 today and they are all fine, honest, and great young people, who fill me with pride. It worked for us. I hope this helps.

Pieces of Me said...

Hi, Michele,

Just a big 'thank you' to you and Janna for these lovely lovely earings! What a great belated Mother's Day gift!

Dorit

Patti said...

I taught my kids (now 22 and 17) that getting caught in a lie would make the consequences worse than just taking the original discipline. The older one always told the truth and has some great examples of admitting something and not receiving any consequence. The younger one...not so much. She continues to lie even when presented with the evidence. And here I thought I'd done something to be proud of with the first one. The point is, some kids just lie. And not being able to trust your kids is hard...on you, and them!

Annie said...

Thank you for publishing the referral to the "nip cancer in the bud. I will be checking this out. My dad (56) was just one month ago diagnosed with stage IV cancer. really scary stuff. Thank you Thank you!!!

An Ordinary Mom said...

I don't think there is much I can even add to the topic. You certainly covered quite a bit of it and so did all the readers.

My only two cents is our kids are watching us super closely so it is of utmost importance that we as parents lead a life full of honesty and integrity. For example, if the checker at the grocery store gives you too much change, let them know and take this opportunity for your kids to see how much you value honesty.

And above all, even though we are training and teaching our children, make sure you always keep the lines of communication open at all levels so they feel they can trust you with these difficult situations in life.

Excellent post!

Roo said...

I don't have any children myself, but thinking back on my own childhood there is one thing that needs to be made clear. Make sure that child knows exactly what the punishment is for.

Here's why I say this: When I was small I had a Barbie doll and I cut it's hair. Mom found the hair and asked me where it came from. Being afraid (and there's the fear factor) of punishment for ruining my new Barbie, I told her it was mine.

Well, I later got my mouth washed out with soap. I never really understood why. I had thought all this time it was for cutting the dolls hair and didn't understand how the two went together. I seriously did not know until 5-10 years ago (and I'm 40+) why I had gotten that punishment. I was discussing it with my mother. She laughed and finally said it was for lying, not for cutting the hair.

So, if you want the child to learn from the punishment, make sure they know why they are being punished.

The Dunns said...

Yes, lying is natural. We've all done it. Our kids have done it and will do it again. But that doesn't mean it's ok and it does not excuse the lie. We are naturally selfish and self-preserving. Lying is often a result of this self-focused nature and it takes love, consistency, and discipline to teach a child to think beyond him/herself.

The idea of 2 separate punishments -- one for the forgery, one for the lie -- is great. Make sure the child knows they did 2 separate things that were wrong.

Great advice, Michelle!

Irene said...

Wow, I needed this post. My oldest (6 1/2) has a lying problem. It scares me how easily she can lie. And I don't know why she does it.

Sometimes the lie is about something stupid, like if she washed her hands. Sometimes it is because she doesn't want to get in trouble. I have tried almost everything. I have sat her down, talked about lying and why it is wrong. I told her that although I would be mad at her if she did something wrong, if she lied about it as well, I would be much madder and it would be a much worse punishment. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

I don't know why she lies so much. My husband and I don't lie like that. It is a scary thing though. I don't want this behavior to continue!

Wendy said...

I just found your blog the other day and haven't responded as of yet, but I just couldn't help myself on this topic. About a year ago, my 11 year old daughter was caught with her younger brother and sister's piggy banks in her room. She had stolen most of the money out of them and then lied about not only having them, but also stealing the money. I was devastated and asked some online friends if this had ever happened to them. You would be surprised at the number of women who said that they had done something similar as a child. She ended up being grounded from tv, radio, computer, friends for a couple of weeks, and was NOT allowed at home alone for a month. Not after school, or at all. She still gets caught in a lie every once in a while, just little things, but she is getting a lot better. She hasn't stoled any money either. Oh, she took the money to buy water at school our of the vending machines. At least it wasn't for drugs or something like that.

Inkling said...

How about the perspective of a girl who used to lie to her parents? That would be me.

My folks were super strict, and I was super shy. That meant that the raciest thing I ever got to do was go to youth group at our church. I didn't even date until college.

One time I accidentally let it slip that I'd crossed the state line with my best friend in my dad's car. That was against the rules. What made it worse was that my mom well remembered my explanation for all the dust and gravel as being from the "tennis courts parking lot at the park". She took away my driving privileges for a couple of weeks, which put a serious dent in my babysitting money (no wheels, no job) and limited social life.

When I was older, I broke the huge promise of purity that I'd made as a young teen. I lied about it not only to my parents, but to the church sponsored college I attended (they would have expelled me for that). When the boy dumped me and sent me spiraling into a serious depression, my mom was less than compassionate because I'd lied to her so thoroughly and for so long. I remember her screaming at me and telling me that I'd ruined my dad's life. My dad just quietly apologized to me for being such a terrible father that I would go out and do something like that. Here's what would have helped instead.

From my mom, it would have helped loads if she had said from the beginning, "If you ever do that, I will be disappointed and very sad. But I want you to know that I will always be here for you to talk to and will always love you, no matter what. So if you do find yourself in that situation, you need to know that I will be hurt and sad, but you also need to know that you can tell me the truth."

From my dad I needed him to just be honest about his disappointment, but I needed him to see that it was my sin, my choice, and my serious error. It wasn't his fault. He loved me to death and took me out on daddy/daughter dates all growing up. He did his job.

Because our household created a fearful environment for a firstborn and only daughter to be honest with her parents, it made it a whole lot easier for me to perfect the art of lying. I've since made things right with my folks, and we've had great candid discussions. They've even invited me to speak to the girl's group at their church on the whole topic. But if we had it to do all over again, my mom would scream a lot less, and I'd be a lot more honest.

luckyzmom said...

Wow, fabulous responses, especially yours scribbit. I was always very careful with my two to say that they had done something badly and never that they were bad. Also, when my first child was about 7 I overheard her telling a friend, "I will just tell my Mom the truth because I get in bigger trouble if I lie". She sometimes avoids telling me things though.

Theresa said...

Great answer, Michelle. You gave me chills and made me feel better, even though my four-year old son's lies are more on the level of not washing his hands when he says he has.

Flea said...

Oh stink. That cancer HTML wouldn't work for me.

I liked all of your answers. And I like Shalee's point about physically strenuous work, especially as the kids get older. I have a 14 and a 15 year old who dread working in the house and yard.

My oldest, a girl, is currently in hot water here. She's restricted until we see change we can trust. And she's carrying the bulk of the chores. I think she may be weeding the garden tomorrow.

At the same time, it's a wake up call to us as parents every time one of our kids is caught in a major infraction. We find ourselves asking, "What is my role in this? How did I contribute to my child's deviance" There's usually a gap in our parenting skills that's revealed when our kids lie, cheat, steal, etc.

Not always though. I have one child who has always been intensely curious about human anatomy, private parts. It's gotten that child in trouble repeatedly. Some part of that is my responsibility, but some part is that child's.

You guys all give good answers. :)

Patience said...

Michelle,

I live by: never take blame or credit for anything your child does. You've taught him. It's his responsibility to make correct choices. That's agency.

That said, you are the parent and are responsible for the teaching. (I'm sure you are doing a great job.) Before addressing the lying however, did you find out why he forged the note in the first place? We all make decisions that aren't that great because we can't think of other options in the heat of the moment. Perhaps if the reason for the forgery is addressed, it will be easier to appropriately address the lying aspect.

Case in point: a student forgot to bring home a permission slip and so forged his mother's signature. When mom found out, he thought he'd get in trouble so he lied about it. If mom just knew that he had forgotten the note, she could have suggested to the student a different, more acceptable solution than forgery i.e. a phone call home, etc. Discussing this, albeit after the fact, could help in future situations, gives the child a feeling of self-worth (my mom cares enough about me to help me solve the "root" of the problem), and helps the parent recognize where the teen's brain needs guidance in figuring out options in a variety of situations.

If the forgery was to get out of other punishment i.e. "I signed your name on the band practice sheet so that I could get a better grade", knowing this can help tailor discipline better...and can lead to some worthwhile conversations with the child about accepting natural consequences.

Regardless of how you decide to discipline, your teen is old enough that he may have some ideas of appropriate consequences to the forgery or lying. It's been my experience that often the child is harsher on him/herself than you would have been. (And, you're keeping the communication door open.)

Good luck.

SabineM said...

funny I LITERALLY just had that conversation with my almost 14 year old today in the car. She told me she had forged her dad's signature on her spanish quiz that she showed me but forgot to have us sign it. She had n A+ on it. I told her that it was not ok to do that. And next time to just wait to get us to sign it. I didn't really know what to say. She fessed up right as she sat in the car, so it obviously bothered her, but she said that she gets extra credit if she gets her stuff signed....So i said it was ok for this one time, but it should not be repeated. THEN i told her the story about my brother who changed his F into a B, way back when we were in Middle School. My mom was called into the teacher's office (because he was failing the class), but she couldn't understand since he was "getting a B". She went in and then when they realized what had happened, my mom was soo embarrassed and SOO MAD at my brother...(oh it was ugly)...I told my daughter that somehow lies have a way to surface or surface way later when you least expect it! And even if no one ever finds out, you live with this horrible guilt in your gut....
mrmacrum is right....

ariel said...

Well first of all, I have to say that I never ever did this crap as a kid. However now, as an adult, I find myself calling into work sometimes -- simply because I need a BREAK!! So I completely understand where he was coming from.

So the first question to me is whether the parent is willing to accept that (a) the kid just needed a break that day and wasn't up to actually faking sick to his mom (a direct lie to a loved one) and (b) would rather fake it to the school (a lie to someone who isn't a loved one) and hope not to be caught at all. The second question is what to do about it.

What I would do is make the child tell me the school rules for tardiness and absences. This stuff was never important to me as a kid, but this week (after 2 and a half weeks off due to surgery) I found myself taking 2 *unpaid* days off work simply because I could not get up the energy to go to work that day. I'm sick and I'm tired and I just didn't want to be stuck in a dark room all day. It would be nice if I had paid attention to absence rules when I was a kid because I wouldn't be struggling to understand them now. So make the kid tell you about the rules, and then if he wants another day off sometime in the future he must write up a plan for how he will get caught up with his homework. An absence shouldn't be about skipping schoolwork, but about resting in order to have more energy to do it later. That may be naive of me, but in my everyday life that is how I see things.

But, you should definitely make "lie" days "unpaid" days!! For me, since I get about $100 a day after taxes, that means that one unpaid day is $100 I lose out on. So, make the kid owe you $100! But, make sure he understands that if he does actually need a day off in the future (and it won't conflict with schoolwork or absence rules) that he CAN approach his mother for a real live note.

It always pained me to see kids who forged all these notes because their parents just simply didn't care enough about their whereabouts. My parents were always willing to give me a note if I really really did not want to go to school one day (usually I had to be some semblance of sick, although sometimes I would hold out until the day after I recovered and get a "free" day!).

Sure I'm not a parent (yet) but I've always thought it important to learn life lessons from the small things in life. What does a kid learn from a tv turned off? Nothing, and he just gets sullen and rebellious. But explaining (and simulating) unpaid days and how much those actually cost to someone in the real world... now that could actually be a helpful punishment.

twokitties said...

I've been thinking on this one, because I actually did this as a kid. I don't remember what the punishment was - I'm sure my mother was REALLY hard on me, she always was. What I do remember is that there were other things going on with me emotionally and I wonder if that is there is a core issue with this kid that needs to be addressed? A conversation that starts with, "I'm upset and need to understand WHY you felt you needed to do this." Of course deal out an appropriate punishment, but I wonder if there is some other problem at school he is seeking to avoid?

diane allison-stroud said...

that is a tough one. as i recall, i was one of the naive moms...being lied to and not even knowing it.

i raised my son to tell the truth, that he could confide in me, that it is better to tell me if he made a mistake than to hide it, etc., you know, all the good things...

i remember when he came into the room and said to his dad and i....(his words....), and i smiled and said something to the effect, that's great honey, have fun.

when his dad turned to me shaking his head back and forth saying to me...didn't you see he was standing there lying and lying? hmmm...honestly, didn't notice a bit since i believed that he always told me the truth...and at some point i guess, he turned into a teenager... and as my husband pointed out to me, teenagers are supposed to lie!

i was confused, and asked early 20 somethings about this... told them the story and repeatedly heard from them... sure, i lied all the time... and one even admitted, i lied even if i didn't need to, just to do it...

at this point i'm realizing the frontal lobe is not completely developed, therefore, it must be for this reason that these odd things happen to them.

i have found now, 10 years later, and at the age of 25, that my son has become a wonderful young man. tells the truth (honestly, sometimes i have to remind him i'm his mother and to zip it), he is kind and compassionate and i don't believe he lies... now i do notice that there will be a slight pause if he doesn't want to say, and i honor that for him. as my mom always says, it all comes out in the wash...

Damselfly said...

When I lied, my grandmother would tell me the devil was going to come get me. I thought he lived in our basement. Gulp.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Great thoughts on this topic Michelle. My oldest is only 5, so we haven't had a ton of experience, but have had some. I definitely agree with the two seperate punishments. We did have a situation and told her...this is your punishment for what you did. Because you lied, your punishment will be this (much worse).

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Oh, the lying. Maya was caught in a lie the day before her birthday this year, and I was SO ANGRY with her for it...not so much for what she had done (used my makeup when I told her not to...she's 12), but because we had been over this SO MANY TIMES, and she had assured us she was NOT using make up. Sigh.

Her punishment was losing her makeup for a month. (She's allowed to wear brow corrector, because she shaved her brows awhile ago, and they're scraggly...but nothing else). So she had to go around with scraggly eyebrows for awhile. I think it was good for her, because middle school is a hard age to do that.

The idea of two punishments never occurred to me, but it might next time. Good idea.

planetnomad said...

I actually went through and read all your comments on this one. Great post, and great comments too. I think this is an issue that everyone deals with at some point or another. I don't really have any wisdom to add.
We have taken away electronic privileges for various things, like your friend did, and I would just mention that it's good to have a definite time for that. (i.e. till Tuesday night, or till you get a good grade in this subject, etc) You know your child and what is effective punishment as well as what is painful but not devastating.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

WISE words! I should print this and keep it on file!

Pamela Allen (Bright Bubs) said...

With our 2 children I focus on positive reinforcement for honest behaviour. If my 6 yo son owns up to doing something not allowed (when asked) I’d respond “it’s good that you told the truth”. When my 4 yo daughter confesses (unprompted) to doing something not allowed “Mum we ate 4 biscuits before breakfast” I thank her for letting me know.
I appreciate as they get older the wrongdoing will be more significant and lying may be more compelling. Some of these ideas may come in handy then.