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Patience

Kids and Lying

Posted by Patience on July 16, 2010 at 6:30 AM in life lessonstweens
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mario lego.jpg

He checked the mailbox and asked me every day that week just to be sure. "Did the Lego magazine come?" Josiah (age 10) said. It hadn't arrived yet, and you could feel the build of anticipation. It's exciting to get the old snail mail every now and then. Both of my boys, who are completely unaware of time, only look at the calendar once a month to start the great wait.

A play date is a great way to break up the time in the summer so Josiah and Jack headed off to Charlie and Sam's for awhile. Hours of Lego's, complicated sword battles and snacks filled the time and both boys returned happy as clams. Dinner and bedtime reading closed out the day and all was well until the next morning. I got this e-mail from another ten year old.

Hi Patience,


We had a little mix up with my lego magazine last night. I thought that Joshia brought a lego magazine to our house. Know i now that it was a mistake because my mama told me that i got it in the mail yesterday.
Could you drop it off if you are diving by.


Thank you,
Charlie.

I casually asked Josiah what happened and he instantly looked nervous, eyes shifting, voice shaking.

"He thought it was mine. I was confused." He said, even seeming to struggle with his own story.

"Okay, let's just get the magazine back to Charlie." I replied.

Only moments later, I checked voicemail and heard a message from an almost teary Charlie starting to wonder how this mix-up happened in the first place and why Josiah took the magazine home.

"Josiah, Charlie just left a message, he's really upset. I'm wondering if there is a little more to this story." I said and the gentle shakedown started. He resisted at first, I think because part of the story was true, he was confused when Charlie originally thought the magazine was his. It seemed though, Josiah deep inside knew it was not, and saw an opportunity which he took.

I was kind of mortified honestly; to think my kid would lie, borrow/steal, that my kid could have a really jerky kind of moment. I could hear him crying from his room.

"What kind of friend am I mom? How could I have done this?" he wailed. All of the judgment in my heart was instantly gone. My boy with long thick hair stained with tears was feeling the weight of his heart, the weight of hurting someone you really care about.

"Oh Josiah, everyone makes mistakes and how sad you are feeling right now shows how much you really care..." I said and the speech went on.

Josiah rode his bike to return the magazine and threw in a coveted silly band as part of his making amends (his idea). I sighed, one moment feeling disappointment and the next seeing the whole boy with a touch of pride.

How do you handle lying at your house? At what age did you start to see these kinds of life lessons start popping up? I'd love to hear your thoughts and share with each from the big bag of parenting tips in the comments. What do you think about kids and lying?


3 Comments

Jess writes...

I think you handled this *perfectly*. You didn't ask him questions to which you know the answer, you helped him to understand how his friend felt, you guided him in making things right. That is discipline in its truest form - teaching, helping a young person to learn how this world works.

So many parents feel mortified when moments like these happen. It's important to know that you're not alone at all! And probably also important to know that, most likely, he was not being jerky. I can remember being his age and seeing something and wanting it so badly that the story got mixed up in my own head. I've read developmental stuff about lying and stealing and everything points to wish fulfillment and a way of thinking that isn't quite as grounded in reality as an adult's mind can be. What's important is not the stealing, it's what comes next. And you guys handled this with grace and love. There may be some repeats, but you are truly on the right path and Josiah has all the makings of a wonderful, compassionate adult!

Jess writes...

PS: my 7 y/o came home a couple of times with things he "found" at school. We talked about seeing something so neat that you really want it, and the importance of making sure these things get back to their original owners, who probably really miss them.

JASMIRE writes...

MY SON STARTS TO LIE AT THE AGE HE IS NOW WHICH IS 3.... HE'S ALWAYS LOOKING AROUND AND LOOKING SAD THATS WHEN I KNOW HE'S LIEING I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW TO TEACH HIM THAT ITS NOT OKAY TO LIE AND HOW TO EXPLAIN A 3YEAR THAT...

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