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    harvs's Avatar
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    Default When toddlers lie

    DS has entered a delightful stage of lying. We are talking white lies here - as in 'did you do a poo?'
    'No I haven't.'

    LIE.

    'When you finish your dinner you can have some milk and milo.'
    'I finish!'
    'Are you sure you've finished? Is that the truth?'
    Nods.

    LIE. On a good day it's still on its plate, on a bad day he's 'hidden' it (on the floor under the table).

    'DS, why did you cut your hair at cc?'
    'It wasn't me! It was John!'

    LIE.

    So, how do you all handle this? Do you think a three year old can understand the concept of truth and lies? Is this a normal phase?

    I usually just say 'that's not the truth, you HAVE done such and such' or 'you haven't told the truth. The truth is xyz'. I don't want to do any consequences if I'm expecting too much iykwim. For example, he didn't get milo because we don't throw food on the floor, not because he lied.

    Can I get some parenting wisdom please?

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    Quote Originally Posted by harvs View Post
    So, how do you all handle this? Do you think a three year old can understand the concept of truth and lies? Is this a normal phase?

    I usually just say 'that's not the truth, you HAVE done such and such' or 'you haven't told the truth. The truth is xyz'. I don't want to do any consequences if I'm expecting too much iykwim. For example, he didn't get milo because we don't throw food on the floor, not because he lied.

    Can I get some parenting wisdom please?
    Normal phase. Actually it is a milestone because it means he is now able to think through the consequences of what your reaction would be to his behaviour so is lying to avoid the consequences.

    You sound like you are handling it pretty much the same way as I did. As my kids have gotten older, I've reinforced that there will be more consequences for lying on top of undesirable behaviour and they should tell me the truth straight up.

    ETA as kids get older, the lies get more believable and I found it tricky sometimes to work out the truth. My DS always used to blink rapidly when he lied. When I figured that out it was easier to spot. My other kids weren't so easy and I had to resort to spinning tales myself to get them to admit the truth eg when I suspected my DD was stealing from my purse I told her that I'd given her photo to the school tuckshop and told them to phone me if she ever bought anything and they phoned me today telling me that she was buying iceblocks. Cue sobbing from DD "Oh no no no no it was only one time, I swear, I'm so sorry, don't be mad, I promise won't do it again wah wah wah."

    Oh one more thing, as my kids have gotten older and lied to cover up behaviour, I try hard to remember to take a deep breath, try to put myself in their position and ask why questions. eg Why did you do that? Why did you lie? etc as opposed to yelling (which is my automatic response).
    Last edited by SSecret Squirrel; 15-03-2016 at 18:59.

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    No advice as we haven't reached this stage yet but from what I know of child development from teaching it actually signifies a major developmental stage! Lying signals the beginning of abstract thinking, it means he is now able to think of an alternate reality that didn't actually happen, and recount it to what he sees as his advantage. So even though its probably really annoying, well done to your little man!

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    Sounds pretty normal. I reinforce "you never get in trouble if you tell the truth" so that mummy's not unhappy that you didn't finish your dinner, mummy is unhappy because you told fibs

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    Thanks!

    I grew up with a mother that took the soft option of white lies constantly. I had to learn several tough lessons as an adult before I realised how important honesty is to me. I want DS to avoid going through that.

    I also kind of really despising lying and I tend to take it personally so thanks for the reminder not to get angry.

    It's good to know it's normal, I guess...

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    I was also going to point out that it is a developmental milestones. Don't panic, he's just adding to his repertoire of ways-to-get-mummy-to-do-what-I-want tricks.

    Just keep calling him out on it but, just as he probably climbed onto the kitchen table (or whatever his toddler thing was) 20 million times despite you giving him consequences, it takes time for them to 'get' lying isn't expected behavior.

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    I also operate on the motto of "if you tell the truth you won't get into trouble". It's hard sometimes not to yell- cutting hair, drawing on walls. But in my opinion you have to get the building blocks of your relationship right and this is the start. I want them to come to me as teenagers and say they stuffed up. They will be bigger than drawing on the walls.

    So I bite my tongue and encourage honesty. Yesterday my 4yo denied writing on my wall. Blamed my 2yo, but it was clearly a lie as it was letters and my 2yo isn't a genius.

    Anyway since I'm up to age 4 I can't say if my approach is right or not! But I did copy it from a friend with a 9yo 😄

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    Geez Harvs, I sometimes think we are the same person! My mum is a white liar and I despise dishonesty too. My DS has also started telling a few fibs but so far he readily admits the truth when questioned- he turned 3 last November

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    Sorry to butt in - so, are there to be consequences for lying? Or is it consequences as they are older?

    DS is not terrible but I can see things creeping in and I honestly have no idea how to handle it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Enough View Post
    I bite my tongue and encourage honesty. Yesterday my 4yo denied writing on my wall. Blamed my 2yo, but it was clearly a lie as it was letters and my 2yo isn't a genius.

    Anyway since I'm up to age 4 I can't say if my approach is right or not! But I did copy it from a friend with a 9yo 😄
    LOL. Nice try there for your 4yo!

    It is normal like the others have said. My 6yo went through the phase but I did what everyone else is suggesting and we had lots of chats about lying and how it's not nice to lie. I always reinforced that I might be cross if he was naughty/did whatever, but I would definitely be cross if he lied to me about it.

    I think it lasted about 6 months before he stopped. Sometimes now he spins wild tales, but I just say "is that really what happened" and he will tell me he was kidding. But it's usually silly stuff now (stuff like he saw Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon flying through the sky), not covering up undesirable behaviour.

    The 4yo DD hasn't really started lying yet, though she does try to hide it from me if she's been naughty. I'm sure it will come. 🙄

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