It all started last week, when a toy 'earth mover' moved quite a bit of dirt out of my African Violet pot and onto my desk. When I asked the wild-child who did it, he insisted, "I didn't do it!"
Needless to say, he did.
In fact, he was JUST sitting there with the toy in his hand!
Which, I reminded him.
He still stuck to his story, I didn't do it!
I didn't even know where to start!
Not accepting the blame for his actions?
Making a mess?
Digging in my African Violet?
So, I started at the top.
"Buddy? You did it. You know you did it. When you say something that isn't true, it's called lying and that is VERY naughty. No one will believe you if you always lie!"
20 minutes, three time-outs and his Cubby in time-out for the rest of the night, he FINALLY admitted to it. I thanked him and we cleaned the mess up together.
At this point, I'm feeling all awesome-mom like. I'm thinking I not only handled that like a BOSS, I made a huge break-through.
Later that night, a clean, folded load of laundry was dumped out of the basket and on to my bedroom floor. When I asked Ollie if he knew why the basket was now in his room with cars in it, he replied with, "I didn't do it."
Are you kidding me? All that work and head-on toddler battling did nothing?
It turns out, not only is this issue normal, I totally handled it all wrong...
Here are a few tips I found to deal with, "I Didn't Do It", aka Lying:
- Avoid inquisitions. When your child is clearly lying, questioning her further or forcing her to confess can cause her to dig in her heels. Rather than asking, “Did you do it?” and starting an unnecessary battle, describe what you observe. For example, “I can see you've been playing ball and you broke the lamp.”
- Repeat the rules. Getting your child to change the problematic behavior and follow the rules should be your primary focus. Rather than launching into a battle about the lying, deal with the behavior first. “ You need to draw on paper, not the walls.” Then give him an objective explanation: “It's our job to take good care of our house.”
- Tackle the motive behind the lie. Once you have addressed the rule, talk about the motive for the lie directly. “I think you were afraid that I would get angry and that is why you did not tell me you knocked down the plant.” Then, encourage her to be straightforward and reassure her of your love. For instance you can say, “I might not be happy about what you did, but I will always love you. When you tell me about a problem, I can help you to fix it.” Such statements create an environment in which your child feels safe enough to tell the truth.
- Find a way for your child to fix his mistake. If he spills the juice, for example, let him help you wipe it up with paper towels.
- Forgive your child's mistakes and demonstrate an openness to discussing problems, your child will feel secure and have less of a need to lie as she grows.
So, I pretty much go it all wrong. I'm going to try these tips moving forward. Don't worry, I'll let you know how it works out for me...
Has "I Didn't Do It" made it into to your house yet?