Teaching "No Lying"

Additional thoughts on lying:

It is a normal stage of development between 3 and 6 years old for children to explore the magic of words. They believe things will be however they say they are. And when they see that you are displeased, they will use the power of words to make things the way you want them to be. Unfortunately, often with punishments, there will be a cementing of the child in this stage as they fear the punishments and continue telling made up stories and, eventually, lies to avoid the punishments.

With GBD, we assume a positive intent and allow for the normal, age-appropriate behavior, while teaching truth and correcting the child when they err on the side of lying.

For example, Liam is now six and really into tricking. The other day he was in another room and when I called in and asked him what he was doing, he told me something. I then I found out later that wasn’t what he was doing. He was concerned that I would be upset with what he was doing. Anyway, when I learned the truth he said, “I tricked you.”

QUESTION:

My son is 3 1/2 years old. He has got the mouth of a sailor (for a 3 year old)! He mostly says bad things for shock value, like poop, poopyhead, stupid head, stinky, swampy pants. We’ve tried ignoring it, and we’ve told him that God doesn’t like him to say bad things. What will work?

This is very age appropriate. When each of my children has gone through it, I’ve just told them I don’t like the word and given them another word to say. Ignoring it doesn’t correct the behavior, but making too big a deal about it makes it linger much longer than it would otherwise.

It really is something they outgrow. Punishments won’t make it stop, and they serve to distance you.

Another idea is to react very big and fun, and distract him from saying those words. Sometimes I’ll tell my kids they are in “big trouble” and then chase them and tickle them. In the book Playful Parenting, author Lawrence J. Cohen suggests saying, “Shhhhh, don’t tell everyone my secret name,” at which point they will tell everyone you are a Poopyhead. And then you can say, “Ahhhhh tricked you, my secret name is ‘Pumpernickel Brain,'” or something silly but less inappropriate.

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