My Child is Telling Lies!
ANSWER: It is not unusual for children to experiment with lying at some point in their development. Children test limits at various times throughout childhood, in order to clarify boundaries and consequences. Five years of age is a common period for this kind of reality testing.
Use your son's behavior as an opportunity to reinforce good character and clarify values. The following guidelines can help you:
The suggestions above are usually all that is required to help your child correct their course and restore honesty and healthy self-respect in the process. However, other motivations, when present, may complicate the picture and are worth noting.
Consider whether your child may be misbehaving in an attempt to get attention, albeit it negative from you. All children need to feel special in some way. A child who does not feel their own unique and positive value may revert to stealing and lying as compensation.
Remember, too, that our children learn patterns of coping and behavior from those around them. Is your child modeling behavior that he sees adults do? Sometimes our children's behavior points to weaknesses in character, which we have overlooked in our own families. If your son notices that his dad or mom avoids conflict in the marriage through white lies, for example, a child may try this behavior out himself. In such cases, a husband or wife believes their behavior to be benign, such as telling a spouse you are late because of traffic, rather than that time was taken to visit a friend or run your own errand.
If lying and stealing are patterns of behavior that persist, consider what the emotional meaning of this behavior is for your child. Seek to guide your child and correct your own behavior, if necessary. After all, we are all continually growing up.
Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.
Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.
Copyright 1996-2003. Gayle Peterson All rights reserved.