This happened recently…
If you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, it is our dining chair with four pencil holes. After some investigation, we figured out that the culprit was G2 except that he refused to admit to it and he even lied to us saying that it was his brother who did it. His steadfast refusal to budge on the lie almost made me wonder for a moment whether it was his brother. I might even have thought so if there hadn’t been an inconsistency to his lying that gave him away.
I don’t know why such poor behaviours from our children always take us by surprise as if it is a sign that our parenting has gone awry. We should remember that he is still only 4 years old – this is the age when they are supposed to start experimenting with lying. To expect a child to grow up without ever making mistakes, disobeying his parents, lying to them, or embarrassing them in some way would be to expect him NOT to be a real child. As my FIL put it so aptly, “If they already know all these things without you to teach them then why do they need you as a parent for?” Makota Shichida also reminds us, “Do not regard his current phase as a finished one. Believe he will continuously improve.”
These behaviours, by themselves, do not reflect poorly upon us as parents unless we choose to do nothing about them. A better way forward would be to view them as teaching opportunities. So here we are working on improvement…
When G1 was about this age, we also went through some “difficult behaviours”. We started reading a series called “Help Me Be Good” (among other character development books) to help address some of those issues. By themselves, the books don’t guarantee immediate improvement on behaviour – not by a long shot – but they are a starting point and a way to seed a thought. Sometimes, these lessons require repeat exposure to reinforce the message.
So I brought out the books again for G2 and we started reading them recently, beginning with the book on Lying:
I like these books because they are short and sweet – which is perfect for the child with a short attention span. They are graphic so your child can “see” to understand what the book is talking about. They provide examples to differentiate between lying (deliberate falsehoods), fantasies (make believe stories for fun), and mistakes (when you honestly believe something to be true when it is not). The book also covers different reasons how and why we might lie, for instance, lying doesn’t only occur with your words but with your silence (refusing to admit knowledge of the truth) and with your actions (hiding the truth by removing the evidence).
Since we started reading these books with G2, G1 has also been pulling them out to read all over again and he has also been trying much harder to be helpful as a result! Bonus!