Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Great big little white lies

Charlie has discovered lying.

I've suspected this for a while but have cut him a lot of slack given how easily confused a 4-year-old can get about even the smallest things, like remembering what they had for lunch, for example, or where they left your telephone, or which bed they're supposed to sleep in...

Anyway, so when he says something that sounds a little hinky, I've been giving him the benefit of the doubt, however clearly, this has backfired.

We are big fans of star charts here.  We incentivise pretty heavily - for every 10 stars, he gets to choose a new Chuggington toy.  It's not a give-away though, oh no.  The criteria is tough and every day in which he doesn't earn a star we actually take one away... it took him nearly a month to earn his last one. I know, call me Cruella.

While this has moved certain behaviours of his along in leaps and bounds, it's also a pretty keen incentive for him to tell a few big fat porkies - I don't want to damage his dignity here, but I'm certain he's having things done for him at nursery that he's supposed to be doing himself and he's earned a star or two off the back of it... and inspired him to try out lying as, essentially, his default position.

Luckily, while he's got a face that'll do him proud around a poker table later in life, currently his lies are pretty unsophisticated - here's one from tonight:

Charlie:  'I'd like to play for 10 more minutes Mummy'
Me:  'OK, I'll set the alarm for 10 minutes'
Charlie: (realising he bid too low) 'NO MUMMY, I said TWELVE minutes'
Me: (laughing) 'No you didn't, you clearly told me10 minutes'
Me: (to Frog) 'Did you tell Charlie he could play for 12 minutes?'
Frog: 'No!'
Charlie: (Makes general freaking out sounds, shouts, pouts and then gives up when he realises he's done for) 'OK Mummy, you set the alarm for 10 minutes.'
Me:  'It's 8 minutes now'.

It's a bit worrying; we need to teach him to tell the truth but I'm not quite certain how...  He's never been punished for telling the truth but we've not exactly made a big deal out of it either; we've sort of assumed a natural honesty in him that perhaps should have been rewarded.

So, perhaps I need to reward him for telling the truth more often.  I smell another star chart...


Shell said...

Ummm.. why would you punish him for telling the truth?

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

My kid is like this...he's going to be a politician. He'll say things like, "No. No. What I'm saying is..." and yes, he's gotten into those little lies. Just great. What fun, hey?

And we do the stars thing too. He's working toward Transformers instead of trains, though he likes those too.

Iota said...

Trouble is, kids can be assert so passionately what they want you to believe, that they end up believing it themselves (though perhaps that happens when they're a bit older than Charlie). Then you can't win, because they believe their own lies, so you can't really pick them up on it, because they're not really lying. They're telling their own version of the truth. It's just a rather untruthful version!

Sparx said...

Shell - no, we never have - it's why I'm puzzled about his decision to lie to us! What I meant was that if he's ever done something wrong and told the truth, we always cut him slack because he didn't lie about it; we've never then gone on to punish him for the transgression.

Lisa - sounds like we're on a parallel path - Charlie negotiates like that as well. I'm learning a lot about negotiation from him!

Iota - Oh ye gods, really??? So this is pretty universal then, hey?

Elsie Button said...

aarr yes we are entering this telling little lies phase too.

the other day betty and dolly were playing together and dolly suddenly started crying. so i ran in and asked betty what had happened. dolly was pointing accusingly at betty (whilst sobbing) and betty was adamant that dolly was crying because she wanted to go in the car somewhere.

so the next time a similar thing happened, i asked betty what had happened and she told me that she had snatched a toy from dolly and made her cry. So, wanting to teach her that telling the truth is good and lying is bad, i rewarded her.

rightly or wrongly, i don't know. who knows with this parenting lark eh?

Sparx said...

Oh lord; two of them pointing fingers! Girls seem to be slightly worse; all Charlie's girlfriends are constantly telling on him (and each other!!).

He confessed some small sin to me today and I was so happy; then half an hour later he lied about something that he had done in front of me and that we'd already talked about! Monkey.

D.J. Kirkby said...

You sound so much like me...Sometimes I worry that we're too strict...but never for long!

Sparx said...

DJ - Indeed - sometimes I worry we're too slack though! There is no balance, I have realised...

Sue said...

Oh man... remember my old 3 week theory? Whatever Charlie-boy does Rahul eventually does? He's been lying too and we are working the range from outright scolding to positive, um, reinforcement (OK, bribes!) and lots of praise not to mention begging. I just hope it's a phase he leaves behind soon. *sigh*

Sparx said...

Sue - yes, I remember! And it's not great news I'm afraid - the lying continues and the shouting has begun! 4 going on 14...

Sue said...

*goes to fix herself a strong drink*