Wednesday, January 20, 2010
My Lying Genious
Lying is developmentally normal. It's a creative exercise. And it is one of the most frustrating behaviors to deal with. Teagan lies. And I just found out that she's been consistently lying at school for about 2 weeks. Sometimes in normal small ways- making up a story in order to compete for attention. But it's gone further than that. She lies to get other kids in trouble. She lies just to make things happen. The big lie today was when she was asked to go and ask another teacher a simple question and report back with the answer- "How many kids are in your class?" She did that. But then took it a step further. "Oh, ok, 9. Um, you need to send half your kids to my class and we'll send half our kids to you." After no kids came back over... and confusion as to why all these kids came back with Teagan... the 2 teachers figured out that their trust had been totally played. It isn't so much the lying in response to confrontation or lying as a way of getting the attention she sees someone else getting. It's the lying about other kids and making up complete fabrications. Before I go any further... I have a confession to make. I used to be a liar. A big time liar. A lie about everything for no reason liar. So I can totally see that "self" in my daughter and it scares me. I lied to protect myself, to keep my actual self buried deep inside, to direct attention the way I wanted it. At the end of high school, when I got serious help through some intense therapy for all the issues stemming form the childhood abuse I survived, I came to my senses. No big epiphany. But I think I learned my biggest life lesson ever when I told my mom my biggest truth ever- that I had been abused by my cousin for several years- and she immediately believed me. I didn't deserve her trust because I had lied and lied and lied since I was about Teagan's age. I lied so much that I believed my lies sometimes. But that one huge Truth and my family, my mom and dad, believed me... trusted me... helped me... that taught me more about love and honesty and trust than any other lesson ever could. Back to Teagan and our school issue. School has a plan in place to manage the behavior there and will be communicating with me so we are all on the same page. But it rocked Teagan's socks when I brought up here little class switch story. I focused on her not being in trouble (one of her loops- "I don't wanna be in trouble"). But we needed to tell Daddy what had happened. I did so- very matter of factly, no tone to my voice. Just the facts, ma'am. And at certain points... Teagan's cries escalated and she'd proclaim "I don't wanna be in trouble!" My reply? A simple explanation- "Teagan, what you are feeling is guilt." And then I'd go back to the story. Bedtime... we talk some more. I talk pretty straight forward with her because she's in the right place for it. The loop is gone and she's open to it. So I tell her... That I think she's a very, very smart girl. And I think sometimes she has really great, smart, fun, creative ideas. And when your brain works as hard as hers does and is so full of ideas... she has to figure out what things are ideas, solutions, games and what things are made up stories- lies. And that when she takes her ideas and tries to tell them like they are real, she hurts herself the most. Yes, she hurts Mommy or Ms Lori or Ms Carly... but she hurts herself the most. Because, for example, Ms Carly really believes the things Teagan says and Ms Carly and her other teachers know that Teagan can be a great helper and be very responsible. But when Teagan tells lies, that means she can't be trusted anymore. And that means she can't have special jobs or responsibilities any more. And that means that her lie she told- and those brief moments of feeling good- end up with her hurting herself. Here is what I know absolutely for sure. I don't and won't question her about lies. At home, when she's caught in a lie, she doesn't get chances to come clean or whatever. She lies and we just call her on it. "Teagan, that's a lie. We don't tell lies in this family because trust is an important part of this family." That's it, end of story. I don't want explanations or stories or questions. Here's the behavior, here's why it isn't ok. I also think it's a clear way for her to not get the attention she is seeking when she lies. I won't lie to her about lies. I've read suggestions where you tell your child they have a light that comes on in their forehead when they lie... Um, why would you lie to teach your child not to lie? makes no sense and goes against everything I said in that statement above. We don't tell lies in this family because trust is an important part of this family. Please share your experience with kids and lying. I'll take any advice I can get on handling this one!