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.