Someone recently asked the following question on children telling lies.
“Anyone got any advice in dealing with kids lying to you? My 5.5 yr old keeps telling lies, blaming her sister for things she did etc. I’ve tried talking to her about it and asking why she feels the need to lie and it’s because she thinks she’s going to get told off. I’m more upset by the lying than any of the things she’s done, some of which weren’t even naughty!!”
One of the things I read quite early on in the gentle parenting movement was to make it ‘safe’ for children to always tell the truth. They need your approval and acceptance, so telling them you feel disappointed in them takes that sense of approval and acceptance away from them, if you see what I mean, making them more likely to need to avoid that happening in the future, to preserve their sense of themselves as worthy of your love.
I really KNOW how hard it can be to not react when they’ve done something you DON’T approve of, so I appreciate how difficult this can be 🙂 I learned that changing ones mindset from one of “This child has been naughty and will only learn by being punished” to one of “My child is learning and growing, and sometimes makes mistakes; what they need is more patient guidance and support from me to help them understand that” can really help them trust you enough to tell you the truth, ALWAYS 🙂 They need to feel that, no matter what, their parent knows they are lovable and worthy, even (and perhaps, ESPECIALLY!) when they screw up!
We then look at ways to make amends, rather than punishing as such. So I might say something calmly and firmly, but with a smile (even though I might feel like yelling!) like “Throwing your plate of dinner on the floor in anger has made a mess. It needs cleaning up now. Do you need a hug to help calm you down BEFORE you clean it up, or shall we have one afterwards when you’re done?”
They might still say no and yell, and if that’s the case, they still have adrenaline from the anger running through their body. So then I might direct them to something energetic to work off the anger energy (and I would say something like “Sounds like you have a lot of anger energy in you still. How about jumping on the trampoline to get that out, or playing the pushing game with me?”
The pushing game is when I stand firmly with my hands outstretched, palms flat facing my child and allow him to put his hands against mine and try to push me over (of course, they can’t because I’m the firm boundary they are feeling the need to push against!). My boys loved it when they felt anger as it maintained our connection, it showed I was on their side in helping them deal with their powerful (and frankly, sometimes quite scary!) emotions, and in a way that used up the excess energy that adrenaline gives us.
Usually, after a couple of minutes, we’d both frequently end up giggling, as the adrenaline dissipated and they wobbled, maybe fell over, looked into my face as they were pushing and I’d pull a silly face at them or something 😉
Once the adrenaline was reduced enough (and you can tell that from how much calmer or happier they seem – keep going with reducing adrenaline if they’re not there yet!), they were usually able to accept the consequence and then do what I’ve asked to make amends quite happily without any argument.
If they ARE still arguing, the situation that provoked the incident in the first place still needs to be dealt with, as there are still angry feelings, usually down to them not feeling heard, validated etc, so I give them the opportunity to speak how they feel about it, vent, rant etc.
My boys are 11 and 9 now, and my 9 year old, when he feels angry, (sometimes with me for imposing limits on him) still comes to me and says “I need to play the pushing game” when he feels overwhelmed with adrenaline. I love it that even when it’s ME he’s feeling angry with, he still feels he can turn to me to help him cope with his feelings…
Hope all that helps and remember to be gentle with YOURSELF on this path too, as you’re learning and growing as well 🙂