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My girlfriend's 9 year old daughter has been lying and talking back ever since I've known her. I am watching her and her 5 year old brother, who just doesn't listen to me. Recently she was dared into writing on one of her good friend's house and it took me 2 days to finally get it out of her. She also carved some random letters on my father's (landlord) computer desk. I'm about 99.9% sure that she was the culprit. Her brother told me that she was writing code. He doesn't know what code is so where did that come from.
Even if she didn't do it I'm to the point where I don't believe a word that comes out of her mouth. I've told the "crying wolf" story. I've used just about everything that you can do in my mind. What can I do to gain control of them? Their last house was dysfunctional. I've been around them for 3 years so I definitely picked up some bad habits in disciplining when I went to their old house. I need to stop the lying and make them hear the words that are coming out of my mouth.
By aaron from Las Vegas
I teach middle school, so I know all about this stuff. You need to act quickly. She is forming habits that will last a lifetime. First, you and her mother and any other involved adults need to agree to form a united front. Kids will find the weakest authority figure and play on them. The message needs to be the same everywhere for her to truly change. Every adult needs to be especially vigilant at holding her accountable for the truth. This, of course, is an ideal scenario. You may be teaching this lesson by yourself.
As far as consequences go, in my classroom, students know that lying equals double punishment, so two detentions for cheating become four if they try to lie about it. I'd suggest taking away whatever it is that she likes best; phone/TV priviledges, time with friends, whatever. She loses whatever number of days with the desired thing for misbehavior, and the days lost double if she lies about it. You need to talk this system through with her before trouble occurs and you need to honor it too. That means that you end the punishment when you say you will and that you don't punish her beyond what you talked about. She needs to see a model of sticking to one's word in you. Of course, you also need to genuinely praise her when she does tell the truth. MOST IMPORTANT--don't give up. It will be incredibly hard, and it sounds like this little girl is very stubborn, but she really needs you to love her enough to teach her the value of truth. Society will punish her if she doesn't learn now. Plus, if you do give up, she will learn that if she wears an adult down with misbehavior, eventually she'll win and get away with whatever she wants. Then, you (and the rest of the world) will REALLY have a problem.
Oh yeah, and, don't get into yelling fights with them. Let them have it out. This is hard because your emotions are involved too. But, yelling back creates more yelling. After they have their say, speak as calmly as you can (but don't smile because then they will think that you are kidding).
You mentioned that they have lived in a dysfunctional environment? For starters, they have to live in an environment which is not that way, but is safe, with loving and firm adults around and people and situations they can trust. Until you gain their trust, they probably won't change, at least, not for you. I, too, have seen and cared for children in very dysfunctional familial environments. These are the kids that need trusting and loving adults in their lives, so they learn to believe that every adult is not like the ones they deal with on a daily basis. Trust is huge! If you can, try and talk to them about things you know they enjoy.
Do they play sports, like certain music groups or movies? Talk to them respectfully (which can, sometimes, be difficult, especially if they're not that way back), and kindly. Let them know you are the adult and while they are around you (or, in your home), they have to follow certain rules, and respecting you and your home are just two of them. If you find they are hyper or angry or they just don't want to talk, be sensitive to those things. Gradually, talk to them like you would anyone else.
Talk to them about how you feel, things you think about and things you enjoy doing. Putting yourself on their level (so to speak) shows them you trust them and that you're interested in them, and how they feel. Kids are very smart. They can pick up on the smallest of details. They know when we're angry, they know if we don't want them around, they know when we're lying and they know other things about us we don't think they know. They know these things by our actions, through our words, our body language, etc. In the end, these children will come around, but... they have to live in a stable, loving environment and be able to trust the people in their lives. I pray you can reach them!
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I have a 9 year old boy who sometimes gets in trouble for lying and back talking. I have made him write out of the dictionary and have tried taking away TV, Playstation, computer, etc. What are other good punishments I can use? I have run out of ideas for good punishments, so that he won't want to do it again. Any ideas?
You might try giving him a time out, explaining why he is in time out, and since he is 9 years old, he needs to sit in time out for 9 minutes. Time out is sitting in a chair or on the floor, for 9 minutes, in a corner or another part of a room where he will be unable to see TV, listen to music, or do anything else. If he gets up, he gets put back in time out until he does his 9 minutes. It will be a struggle at first, but he will get the message. (09/22/2008)
I made my son write also, but I made him write a letter of apology, so that I knew he got it. He still does this when he makes a mistake, he has written to teachers, our apt. manager and others. One thing he absolutely could not stand when he was younger was for me not to talk to him when he had done something wrong. But I wouldn't speak to him until he stopped talking back and started acting right. Also, I always listened to him. Whether he was in the right or wrong I always sat down and listened to his side of the story.
Then if he was wrong I would explain to him why he was wrong and what was going to be done about it. Also, when he was grounded, he didn't sit in his room, he cleaned. The worse the offense the more rooms he cleaned. After awhile he would apologize quickly when it looked like he might get grounded. Hope some of the helps. (09/22/2008)
It is not always the punishment that works, but sometimes it is the reward for not doing the nasty deed that is more important.
One time when you and he have a talk and he doesn't backtalk or smart mouth try telling him how nice it is to talk to him when you can talk like that. When you catch him telling the truth tell him that it is so nice when you can believe him. Also a little hug never hurts.
Of course sometimes you have to set up things so that you can get these chances.
Sometimes kids get the idea that one is swift to punish, but not to give praise and sadly they are usually right about this. (09/22/2008)
I notice no one has mentioned punishment by withholding allowance. At age 9 he surely likes the green stuff. Try taking away a set amount, like a quarter every time he misspeaks. Put it in a jar so he can see what he is missing. It could also work in reverse, if he does not curse for a month, he could get a bonus. (09/22/2008)
By Ruth A.
I am not a great believer in punishments, and it seems as if the ones you are using are not working all that well. If you have the program Supernanny, watch that. She is an expert at showing how to use the time out. It seems to work well for the kids in the homes on the program
Check out books by Barbara Coloroso. She has several, and there will be one or more that will give you some good ideas of how to handle this. She is a strong believer in choices and consequences, rather than arbitrary punishments.
You may need to do some thinking about the reasons for the lying and backtalking. Does he lie to avoid punishment? Does he lie to avoid doing homework, for example? It may be a homework problem, not a lying problem. Does he tell lies to get attention? The reason for the lies and the backtalk may give you ideas of how better to stop this behavior. (09/22/2008)
By Louise B.
A friend of mine with 4 kids told me about this, which works on my grandchildren: it's called "Good Bean" and "Bad Bean". For each child, get 2 identical jars. Using a Sharpie marker, put a smiley face on one and label it "Good Bean" and put a frownie face on the other and label it "Bad Bean". Use a good-sized bean, like dried limas.
You can decide what earns good and bad beans. It seems to work better to "catch them doing something right". Decide also whether to offer a reward for a half-full jar or wait for a full jar. The beans can be counted at the end of the day and if there are more good beans than bad beans, the difference is put into the good bean jar to add to the good beans already there and vice versa. There are lots of ways to set this us and motivate your son to fill that jar.
Good luck, Nancy in NC (09/22/2008)
By Nancy in NC
How often are you praising your son for is good behavior? As a mother of 7 children and a child care provider for 20 years, I have found that when you lavish praise whenever a child does something right, it is easier for them to be truthful with you because they know that you love them.
Try to figure out why he told the lie. Lies are almost always based in fear of someone or something. There may be a bigger problem that you will need to deal with. Before you punish, make sure you get the whole story.
Sometimes children are dealing with a problem that they are to inexperienced to handle. Reassure them that they can always tell you the truth. Be patient as they explain things to you. If something was damaged, have them make amends and apologize for what they have done.
What tone of voice are you using? I have found that when I felt frustrated, my own voice wasn't as calm as I would have liked and this tone would be mirrored by the child. At that point, sometimes it is better to tell them you will talk later. Respect their right to calm down as well by saying, "We can't discuss this right now. I will wait until you can speak to me respectfully." Then I put the child in time out and say, "Let me know when you are ready to talk to me."
Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes twenty. I always ask them when they say they are ready to talk why they need to sit in the chair. They know when they have crossed the line of civil behavior and it is helpful for them to verbalize it. This works well when they really want something.
A child who is telling lots of lies and back talking sometimes is feeling very discouraged. In a calm moment express your great love for him and tell him all the reasons that you are grateful to be his mother. I have found that expressing love was both a prevention and a cure. (09/23/2008)
We have (as I am sure you have) been stressing there are consequences/rewards for behavior, good/bad. If he does something bad there is a consequence, but if he lies about it and we find out there is more of a consequence - increase the discipline (in action, time, etc.).
Remind him why he is in "trouble" because he "forgets" a lot and wants to do something which gives opportunity to "re'talk" the lying issue. The real "lesson of change" for us is when the action is not a "battle that must be fought" (constantly) and he tells the truth about doing the action. Then we (sometimes) have mercy on him. He learns that telling the truth is the best route to go. Of course he is 7 and still learning. Wish there was a "perfect" cure, but it is our nature to lie. Good luck. (09/24/2008)
By Mom xs 2
What we do with our daughter who is 10 is put a smiley sticker on her calendar each day for good behavior. What she had a problem with was not always keeping her hands to herself and pestering other children. This seemed to happen most during times she got bored, such as standing in the lunchroom line. She has a speech problem so touching was something she was used to doing to communicate if others couldn't understand her. It is hard to break her of this habit. We find giving her incentives to be good works well for her. We talk about any bad behavior, but try to in a positive way. If at the end of the week she's got all smileys on her calendar then she gets a little reward. (09/24/2008)
I have seen on Dr. Phil that you totally empty a child's room of everything except their bed including taking the door off the hinges. Then that is where the child spends their time. It takes 21 days to make a new habit. Once the child goes the allotted time give things back. Whatever you chose as a punishment make certain that you and your husband are consistent. If a child gets away with it one time and is punished the next or you ignore and your husband goes overboard you are sending a child mixed messages. Don't just discipline when in is convenient for you. The same punishment for the same crime always. (09/26/2008)
I agree with those who've suggested that seeking to understand the reasons he chooses lying over truth is important. It may not be the same reason every time. What's also important is that he is disciplined in ways that meet his "need" not his "crime".
What he needs are those lessons which will grow him to be a responsible, honest man of good character. A man whom others will know is honest because he speaks the truth. A man whom others will know is responsible because he accepts the consequences of his own actions. And a man whom others will know can be relied upon because of his good character. The kind of man he can be proud of and feel good to be.
His need is to understand that lying undermines trust, and sassing expresses disrespect. A loss of trust between you means he loses all privilege, be it time, stuff, money, or what-have-you, and that trust is a commodity that is "earned" back, over time, one small privilege at a time.
He needs to understand that a loss of respect between you will not be tolerated. You are the parent, he is the child. You are in authority over him, until such time as he has grown up enough, having demonstrated that he's learned the lessons of good character that you have taught him, and he becomes his own authority. It should be pointed out to him that even then, as an adult, he will still always be subject to rules and the authority of others, just as you, as an adult, are now. (09/26/2008)