What do you do when your child lies to you?
Here’s the set up: you are convinced your child is responsible for something bad, but swears it wasn’t him/her. You can’t definitively prove anything. Now, you’re faced with determining how to discipline. For the misdeed? For lying? For both? What do you do?
Give us your solution in the comments.
Such a frustrating and tricky situation. My kids are young so they’re not very good at lying, as in, I can usually tell when they’re stretching the truth. And most of the time the crime is not that severe. My friends with older kids and teens tell me cringe-worthy tales that make me want to hide under my bed until they’re 30. If I am 75% sure that they’re lying, I don’t ask. I simply say, “WHY did you do such and such a thing?” My 5yo is scissor happy. He cuts everything — checks, laundry that needs folding, bills, and lately — his hair. I hide the scissors, but he finds them or I forget and leave them out. Yesterday he came up and asked me a question and the front of his hair looked different, but I wasn’t sure he had cut it. His cuts are more subtle than they once were. I was pretty sure that he had so I said, “Wallace, why did you cut your hair?” He immediately shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know. I guess it was in my eyes and bothering me.” He totally confessed. If I had asked, more than likely he would have lied. It’s tough, and I’d hate to accuse my kids of something they didn’t do, but the few times that I have, I can tell instantly that they’ve been wrongly accused. I’d love to say I came up with this on my own, but I read it in a parenting book — no clue now which one. My husband has had good luck asking the kids if they did something and if they tell the truth, they won’t get in trouble. Like I said, my situations are pretty harmless. I doubt this would work as well with hard-headed teens.
I think “why did you do…” Is a great idea. I’ve always just said that something or other happened to the child in question and they never fess up. One of my kids always fesses up, the other digs in like a prairie dog!
My son was accused of stealing once in 4th grade. He completely denied it and was absolute that it wasn’t him. I told him that trust was a big deal to me and that if he looked me in the eye and swore to me he was telling the truth I would believe him and I would have his back. He was telling the truth. The teacher found her wallet and apologized to my son. Because I believed in him, we have had a beautiful, honest and open relationship where he tells me the truth, even when he knows he will be punished because he knows how valuable that relationship is between us. I have 4 kids, all teenagers. And I trust them fully until they give me a reason not to. And so far that strategy is working beautifully. Treat your kids how you would want someone to treat you in the same situation.
Trust is so important and a two-way street, which is one of the reasons I’m trying to teach my kids to protect themselves (with things like the Internet, texting, etc.)rather than me protecting them. In this situtation, it was just not possible to simply believe the child without other, scarier possibilities being considered. So, we handled the situation as if the scarier possibilities were the cause of the situation. Still not sure it was the best solution, but escalating into accusatory confrontation didn’t feel right either.