Summer Lying Scenario
Mom gives child $10.00 for a trip to the pool with friends.
Upon child's return, Mom sees change in the pool bag.
Mom sees child later and asks about the pool, what happened, what he did and then this little nugget: "If there is change, please leave it on the counter."
No change is on the counter.
Mom, the next morning, very casually asks, "Um, was there any change you might have forgotten?"
Child says: "Nope"
OMG, NOW what to do?
First of all, do not ask questions you know the answer to! If I could magically change the scenario it would start with.
Mom: "Hey hon, I saw some change swirling in your pool bag, leave it on the counter before dinner."
It's disrespectful and frankly, is totally ineffective, to try to catch kids in lies. Catching kids in lies does not make them honest. Instead, think of being honest as a training opportunity, not a morality test. When our kids fail the morality test of fibbing, we usually launch into a tirade of anger and shaming. The focus for the child moves from the money to protecting himself from Mom's explosion. The child thinks, "I can't tell Mom anything, she flips out!"
Instead, consider confessing to a transgression (being honest after you have done something you know will upset your parent) as a skill (not a do or die, one shot, morality test). If it's a training situation we can expect that our kids probably won’t get it right the first time. People tend to confess to others who remain calm. Calm does not mean condoning. Shall I repeat that? Calm does NOT mean condoning.
Now that Mom has learned this new information, what happens next? In a quiet mom, just Mom and child.
Mom: “Hey hon, I saw money in the pool bag before I asked you to put the change on the counter and now there is no change? Can you tell me about that?”
If he lies, Mom could leave it at that, or say: “Ok, if you remember differently later, let me know.”
When money is doled out again, you might have a conversation about whose money it is, or give him only the money he can spend and you don't care about change, or ask him how he wants to handle the change. Children feel so respected when we START with asking THEM how they want to handle things. We are often surprised how willing they are to cooperate when they are in the drivers seat and don't FIRST have to endure one of our lectures (as amazing as it probably is!).
When it comes to honesty, the trick is to have a relationship with our child where they can tell us the truth. So don’t be overly disappointed or devastated by the lying, and don’t yell at them. Take it in, consider, circle back. Say it with me now, “Take it in. Consider. Circle back.”
The Consider and the Circle Back is where the relationship building power is. We aren't letting kids 'get away' with anything, we are learning about who our kids is.
Where can we practice being someone who can handle the truth*?
*Often, it's those of us that are sneaky, or tell white lies, or don't give full information that often are obsessed with getting our kid not to lie.