does he have remorse???

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ktllc, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I have been observing difficult child a lot lately and does not seem to have true remorse. When I say true, I mean coming from the heart, from inside him. It more him shooting "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" once he knows he has been "caught". It's like he is sorry because there are going to be consequences, not because of what he has done. He will also systematically lie and denie any wrong doing. The only way for him to admit it is by presenting strong evidence that we know (exemple: show him food he threw in the garbage instead of eating it). The other day (once again he fed his food to the dogs and I was sure of it 'cause the dogs had not cleaned up everything) I asked him if he finished his snack. He told me yes, quite proud. I asked him if he felt good inside, for showing such a good behavior, for eating everything like a good boy. He told me yes with a big smile. So I wnet on and asked if was really feeling that good or maybe he had something he wanted to tell me (I laid it pretty thick!) and... nope.... nothing!!! Just a happy boy that had no clue I knew. I did not confront him and he never confessed or looked like he was uncomfortable.
    How do you teach remorse??? I know he is capable of empathy as long as he is not involved in the situation (exemple: his brother falls and hurts himself. difficult child will ask how he feels and consol him). But if he is the cause of the problem/situation I think he only gets upset because of the consequences...
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I do empathise. I experience some of this with my little boy. In fact, I was wondering it tonight - not remorse, but how do you teach that lying is wrong, undesirable, etc?
    I fear and imagine that any such teaching or learning will take a LONG time, and many, many repetitions before it takes any hold.
    On the other hand, to a degree we have to consider it from the child's point of view, I think. Is throwing away food that he doesn't want to eat "wrong" in a 4 year old's eyes? One could argue that it is a most intelligent course of action if he doesn't want to eat it! He then knows you will be cross and he lies to avoid this... that's the problematic bit, isn't it? I wouldn't expect any 4 year old to feel genuine "remorse" about this... The only method I find with this is to say to my son gently but firmly that I will NOT be cross but I would like him to tell me the truth. He will eventually do so if I continue in this friendly, non-confrontational tone.
    Sorry not to have more mind-blowing advice! Let me know if you discover any breakthroughs yourself on this one :)
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Well, you can't really teach remorse. Especially if he has a diagnosis of ODD. Is this the 4y/o? I do agree with Malika, but this is the age to set the foundation for always telling the truth. When this issue started to bug me big, time, I laid a new house rule. If you fess up and tell the truth, you will NOT get in trouble for the thing you did wrong. If, on the other hand, you screw up, and then lie, you get double punishment and the punishment for the lie was always more severe. Now of course, this was for the small 4-5 y/o lies, yeah I ate it, no I didn't color on the wall, etc. For my house, it set a good foundation for honesty, and as they grew older (getting older) they now come and "confess" before I discover something wrong. I generally praise them for being honest with me and try to keep the "punishment" as natural consequences, like cleaning up the mess or fixing whatever it is that went wrong. Of course, my difficult child DD1 still strugles with lies, but even she has "confessed" at times because nothing is certainly better than double.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I think almost all kids, even older, do little things (to me and probably to a kid it is little) like stuff food he doesn't like to the dog. I don't think all of them lie about it when confronted, but some do. Does he compulsively lie? THAT is a problem. A lie to stay out of trouble once in a while isn't abnormal. by the way, I've raised five kids to at least age fourteen. The only child who NEVER lied to get out of trouble is my youngest one. The rest all have at one time or another. It is if they always lie that you do have an issue.

    If your son feels sadness for his hurt brother, he feels compassion, which is not the same as remorse, but it is on the same level. Does he have any other issues that worry you? Many of us here believe that ODD is k ind of a catch-all, throw away diagnosis that doesn't have much meaning.

    Keep us posted :)
  5. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    I think that is "normal" behaviour, a study was done years ago and kids learn to lie at a very young age and as they get older they learn to perfect it. My friends son used to hide his food in the couch..he was about 4 when he did that, and his reasoning was he didn't want to eat it, but didn't want to get in trouble for not eating it, since she was always happy when he finished his meal he learned to hide things from her.(he ate supper in the living room)

    My M will ballface lie to me...last week he colored with marker(tg it was washable crayola marker) on the living room wall, and the only reason I knew it was him after asking him & his brother who did it...was the evidance was all over his hands ;) my discipline was to give him a cloth and let him clean up the mess. Since my daughter also did this at age 5(only she did an entire mural on her bedroom wall) I knew this was normal for a kid to do and didn't flip out.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  6. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    It is kind of reassuring to read the normalcy of this behavior. My oldest son has never done that and I was really wondering if that was a red flag. I'll try to change technique and not punish him as long as he tell the truth. And do the double punishment method if he still lies and I catch him (pretty easy to catch him at his age).
    Midwest, I agree that ODD is almost a non-diagnosis. He is scheduled for a psychiatric evaluation because we highly suspect some processing issues. The waiting time for that evaluation is long though... has been way over a month and still no date on the calendar. Can't wait for answers!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We saw a neuropsychologist and had to wait for six months the first was worth the wait!

    Keep us posted and good luck :)
  8. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    Ktlc- I always find it reassuring when people say to me "that's normal my son/daughter did that too" makes me think, seperate the normal from the abnormal and look for the real red flags. I personally don't think double punishment is a good idea, I think learning to set kids up so they don't get defensive and lie is better..or if you know he's lieing giving him an out to come clean. I'm really trying to do this with both my sons, to take these moments of punishment and turn them into moments of learning, educating and discussion. They are only 5 but I've noticed that when I get eye level and talk with M and get him to tell me WHY...he can't xxxx it is proving to be beneficial.

    eg. We have a water fountain on our deck...the boys are not allowed to plug it in, we plug it in only...husband went outside and saw the fountain was plugged in....(we know it was M since E was doing something else) when asked "M did you touch the fountain?" m "no" husband says tell me the truth and you won't get into trouble, I can tell M is going to lie again so I say "M it's ok, be honest with dad" M "yes", I bent to eye level and explained "the reason we don't want you to plug in the fountain is because it's electricity and that can hurt you and we love you and want you to be safe, now tell me Why you plugged in the fountain" M "because I wanted to see how the pump works" I said "when you want to know things like that all you have to do is say to dad "dad I want to know how the pump works" so M went up to husband and said "dad I want to know how the pump works" husband said "come, I'll find the pump system on google since we can't see it since it's burried under all the rocks in the fountain" Whew....I implimented a new parenting technique I read about and hopefully M will come away with, if I ask, I will get answers.
  9. keista

    keista New Member

    Jan, so glad to hear that method is working for you. It worked for me for a little while, when it stopped working was when I went the double punishment or nothing route. I do like the first way better, It is much more in line with my parenting style and philosophy of life in general. Learn, teach and do the right things just because they are the right things to do, not because you fear some punishment - parental, legal, spiritual. I approach most issues via that philosophy, but sometime it just does not register with the kids due to their deficiencies.
  10. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    When it comes to safety issues (ie: electricity and water in the fountain), difficult child is usually pretty good about it. He was born in a dangerous environment (on a farm with really BIG equipment) and now lives in an equaly dangerous one (I own a trucking company), so from the start there was no doubt in my mind: he HAD to listen and follow safety rules. Really is a life or death situation. He usually lies and deny any wrong doing for the small stuff. It is never big, but what drives us banana is the accumulation of small stuff. If asked why (ie: why did you hit your brother, why don't want to eat your dinner...) 95% of the time he will say "I don't know". Or if I correct him from doing something wrong (I will say some like "V. now that's enough, you need to stop"), then he will cry and cry and cry!!! He can go on for almost an hour. After a while of crying, I ask him why he is crying (the scolding was quite small) and he will say either I don't know or you make me sad.
  11. april1974

    april1974 New Member

    Ktllc- I get what you mean, they say don't sweat the small stuff, but that is hard when it's continuous small stuff that add up over time. I was just giving the fountain eg as a teaching moment, not so much the safety aspect of it but instead of discipline I chose to educate, it could have been something that was unsafety related. I'm trying to not punish anymore, I don't want to see him continuely in time outs but we also have to have consequences.

    Keista-I kwym, educating and discussing doesn't work as well with E, he's much harder to reason with however since he is generally a "good" child and doesn't stir the pot I don't have to do this with him, but I can totally see why that method may not work with some kids, I think it will work with my M, hopefully!

    Sometimes my failure to find a method could actually, sometimes doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing? I don't know, so much to learn and how to manage everything, it's def a balancing act.

    I wanted to add your son reminds me a bit of my twin a E, he can cry for hours it's horrible, he gets into a mode and that's it, takes forever for him to come out of it. Thank goodness he isn't the one being violent and having issues, generally he is my easy child but there is no such thing as a easy child however he is a tonne easier to manage.
  12. Confused

    Confused Guest

    Hi Ktllc,
    Sounds like my situation! My son seems to have no remorse either. One time he said" ahh we need to bury my daughters friends gerbil" but he never seems to care unless he gets in trouble either. I just keep saying oh no, that must hurt that person/aniaml,and give a sad and worried face. I talk to him how he feels and so on. But, its really a tough question on how to teach it. I been looking up sites on how to teach remorse/controling temper/using words not fists etc. Its not easy. Good luck and if I find anything good I will let you know! I know this can take time for some to learn or even at least understand it. We just have to keep trying!