How to handle a lying child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by raiste62000, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. raiste62000

    raiste62000 New Member

    My son has taken up lying. From anything concerning questions about eating foods at school, to stealing candy from the candy jar in the kitchen. back in October he stole his sisters halloween candy, and hid it behind the toilet in the bathroom. When I questioned him about it, he stated he wanted to count it. Totaly did not make any sense. Another example was his lunch account at school. Everyday his account kept going further and further into the negative, and yet he swore up and down he was not eating anything or buying anything at school. Eventually he admitted to it, but gave no explanation why he lied. Its getting to be a daily thing now and is really starting to irritate me. I think it could be an emotional response, as I feel that he may thrive on negative attention, and I do not want to reward his need with a negative response. Currently going through a divorce, and my kids all live with me, as the judge feels that I am the better example for my kids to follow, yet my son can't seem to get it through his head that lying is wrong. Where can I go from here?? Tried revoking privelages, taking favorite toys away etc.. But nothing seems to work. Whats next to do here plz???

    Thanks :sad-very::ashamed::faint:
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    How old is you son? Has he been diagnosed with anything? On any medications for anything?

    I feel the age and diagnoses would help others give suggestions or perhaps insight.

    Unwanted behaviors can be common during a divorce, however, sometimes there can be a medical reason behind this that you will want to address. Something triggered by the stress of the changes in your home. Don't chalk it up to entire rebellion over the divorce. It is a good thing that you are trying to understand why these behaviors are happening.

    Are you kids going through any counselling for this major change in their life?
  3. raiste62000

    raiste62000 New Member

    My son is going on 9 years old now. he will turn 9 next week. We have done some counseling for him, and I plan on taking him back. The counselors original assesment was some grief over the divorce, and some other underlying issues. I worry that he is developing like I did as a child, but I was also the harbringer of my own doom back then. He has unlimited potential, and I just want to see him happy, and living his life to the fullest, not wasting his days away in his room due to punishments for not telling the truth, stealing, and the other distractions he has in life right now. Thanks for the help here...
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Divorce is very hard on kids. I know. I went through one. I noticed lots of behavior problems during and after that were not there before, especially with my then eight year old. Divorce is one of the big stressors in life and your son is very young. I do believe that, if this is new behavior, it's due to the divorce. I don't know the particulars, but kids tend to know when things are very wrong and react to it. All three of my kids were extremely upset and angry too.
    My advice is to keep him in therapy and give him time to heal. in my opinion this isn't a good time to keep him in his room for lying. I would cut a little slack due to the situation then ask the therapist how to best deal with it. Ignore the lies. He may well be looking for attention. My daughter told the entire third grade that her father sold candy, then she'd ask me for money, buy candy and hand it out to everyone, telling them she got it for free from Dad. She told me that she wanted the kids to like her. She was really griefstricken over the divorce...all kids are different, but it was very very hard on her. She felt as if she didn't have either of our full attention anymore and reacted poorly to that. Warning: If there is already a new honey in hub's life, and, worse, her kids...that will make it even harder. (((Hugs)))
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  5. compassion

    compassion Member

    My expsreince has been lying/stealing associated with mania in my daughter.It was the mood disorder. She is more stable now and while I donot really beleive everything she says, it is much better.
    I found that boudnaries are imortant. Oh and impulsiviity huge factor. I do have to lock everythng,etc.
    In my expereince, s=could not reason. In our expereince with my daughter, it was illness, not a moral issue. Lectures for hours did nothing. I cannto rason. I do not react. I focus on stabiity and prosocial. Compassion
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree that focusing on the lies will only bring more lies. Take away any and all temptation, such as the candy jar, keep things that you or your daughter don't want anyone else touching private or even locked up.

    My difficult child told her entire kindergarten class that I ran her over with the car! She stole the entire 3rd grade class's supply of calculators, and later she stole my wedding band, one of H's rings and her sisters jewelry. Going back in therapy we were able to pinpoint that those incidents were all precipitated by major life changing events - FOR HER. Not necessarily for me or H or her sister, but for her. Everyone reacts differently to any given situation. If you know and understand that the changes going on in your home and lives is traumatic on even a small scale, take that into consideration. Your son knows stealing and lying is wrong - to constantly punish him over and over again isn't going to make the lightbulb go off. However, you may worry that doing or saying nothing to him about his behavior will be the same as condoning it. Therefore, you may want to acknowledge his lying or stealing in an appropriate manner, but not make him stay in his room all the time. What purpose will it serve if it's not doing anything to change his behavior anyway? I often think that just their KNOWING that we KNOW is enough. Hugs~ It's not easy.
  7. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    We choose our battles and how we fight them which includes those of the lying situations. Your son knows that lying on ANY level is pushing your buttons so for the little stuff (stealing candy from the kitchen jar) try turning it around to seem like it is no big deal but just needs a look at the boundaries.

    For example:

    You KNOW your son took some candy without asking.

    1. As other's stated, take the tempation away - if he can't steal, he can't lie. "It is not working to have candy sitting out and about. It is being eaten too fast. So, for the time being, we will not have it just sitting around. If you want a certain type as a once a day treat or snack for school, let me know what it is and it will be rationed out." (Do not refer to WHO is taking it, just that it is disappearing)

    2. Don't open up the power struggle by ASKING "Did you take candy?" You know the answer and it starts the fight.

    3. You want to address that you KNOW there is missing candy but you don't want to come accross as automatically being judgemental and accusing your son. So, a few possible responses:
    a. "Hmmm - looks like someone has a sweet tooth lately. I will need to limit candy intake or there will be more visits to the dentist to fix rotten teeth. Whoever has had more candy then normal lately, please make sure your are doing an extra good job brushing your teeth everyday." (even if you KNOW he didn't eat it but is hiding it)
    b. "Hmmm - looks like someone has a sweet tooth lately. I think that someone may be saving his/her favorite kinds somewhere else in the house. We can not have candy stored where pets can get at it. Please let me know what type of candy you are looking for and we can work something out to make sure there is enough during the week."
    c. "Everyone, please return any candy you have store in the house."
    d. difficult child states he was going to count the candy. Purchase individually wrapped candies and ask him to count them before putting them in the jar. He can count them every day and keep a tally of the total if he wants. (He may not want to do this but it is an option to offer to him to meet his need to count. Even though that was just a lie, you are sending the message that you want to provide opportunities to him to do things he likes without getting into trouble). He will be caught off guard if you give him an alternative to meet what he says the reason was instead of punishing for stealing or lying. "That was not the right thing to do, so instead, you can ........." No punishment, just redirection. You are teaching him problem solving - he can find ways of doing things without lying and stealing about it.

    When Diva was about 12/13, we did a lot of, "Well, that does not appear to be working, let's try another way." Some of those included pulling in the boundaries - I had given her too much rope and it didn't work. I did not get angry with her, just looked at the situation and redid some rules. (That is common as our kids grow and are not always able to handle what we think they are ready for)

    As much as possible, try not to give him an opportunity to lie. This means looking at every question you ask him and maybe rephrasing it. Instead of, "Do you know where my gloves are?", say, "Can you help me find my gloves?" Instead of, "Did you take the phone?" ask, "Can you help me find the phone."

    Start board game nights. You may be able to gauge his level of "lying" while playing games. I think you may be able to tell in time if he is becoming more trustworthy through the board games. They can teach him that winning in an honorable way is a good thing. One good game is Cadoo - part of the game has the player looking through the house for items. That would be a great way for you to praise him for how well he can find things opening up his willingness to "find" missing things when you are looking for them. "I can't find _________, difficult child, can you help me look?"

    As others have indicated, negative punishments/disciplines often backfire and make things worse. Whenever possible, be positive - stay calm and make it appear that you are being objectional instead of personal about finding an answer. (You are looking at the SITUATION and not at looking for blame). He wants you to acknowledge that he had the power to make you angry by lying to you so try to get to the answer without that blame involved.

    Make every situation a learning event as much as possible instead of a punishing event. That was not right, what should have we done instead?
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree, don't ask, "Did you steal the candy?"
    I've learned the answer to that one the hard way!
    Can't add much more here--you've gotten great responses.
    Best of luck with-the divorce and counseling. It's a hard road.