August 13, 2009
Sometimes life gives you gumballs - Dealing with a lying toddler
My daughter has been going through quite the lying jag these past six-or-so-months. She is so good (and creative) with what she comes up with it amazes me. Not to mention she has the prettiest sky-blue angel eyes that look at you with adoration in her dead-pan delivery of her lies! She’ll either be an awesome poker player or one heck of an actress when she grows up.
I know that most kids go through this lying stage. My son went through the phase without telling any real whoppers - That is not to say he is cured at age five of lying, however he now understands the consequences of doing so. My daughter on the other hand still doesn’t “get it” but she’s still young. A perfect example of one of her “whoppers” was this:
We started potty training at two-and-a-half with her, as she exhibited all the signs and WANTED to wear big-girl pants. After she turned three this past winter though, we began having issues with her wetting her pants before getting to the bathroom. This was presumably because she was too busy playing to take a break. I used all the tricks to get her to use the restroom with any frequency - everything from physically placing her on the toilet, to setting a timer, to a rewards system. She would still wet her pants just a little - She'd say "I leaked". One particular day, I saw the wetness on the back of her pants and said to her:
“Gabby did you pee your pants?”
Without missing a beat she looked me straight in the eye and with a smile said, “No, Bailey licked my butt.”
Frankly I didn’t know if I should applaud her creativity, laugh at how funny the scenario or sternly admonish her - I simply WASN’T expecting that response! Bailey is our DOG!!!
I suppose age and experience have taught me to think out of the box though to get the answers I need. Actually it was probably one of the sales training sessions I sat through at one time or another. I remember one particular lesson: Don’t ask a yes or no question of someone, or you will only get a yes or no answer. I.e. A fast-food worker should never ask “Do you want fries with that?” but instead should ask “What size fries would you like with that?” I’m not sure why I remembered this particular technique in working through “getting a toddler not to lie” but somewhere along the line it came to top of mind…
The point is, as a parent of creative children (or any child really) I need remember to ask the right questions to get the answers I want. I don’t always think to do this immediately, but do tend to remember when I am getting nowhere with my questions.
One day, when my son was not quite three years old, I arrived at daycare to a not-so-smiling care worker.
“What happened?” I asked, and was told my son had used a Sharpie marker on the face of another child. OUCH! (Don’t ask why a Sharpie was within reach of my child, I am not certain of that myself.) I asked several times why he had done that, without getting an answer.
Later I tried again, this time asking, “Zach what did you draw on that child’s face?”
“Mommy I was only face-painting for her.”
(As coincidence would have it, I HAD myself, volunteered to face paint the weekend before. He was in attendance and thought the “markers” I used looked like the Sharpie I guess.)
At least I got an answer I could reason with ; We also had a long discussion on what face painting was, and that there were special face-painting pens that mommy used. He never face-painted another child at least, so I THINK he got it!
The other day I had another opportunity to sharpen my skills. My daughter was playing with gumballs from my son’s gumball machine, when out of the corner of my eye I saw her give one to Bailey. Yes, that's Bailey the dog!
Jumping up I said, “Gabby did you just feed Bailey a gumball?”
Taking a deep breath, I dug deeper trying again, “Gabby, what color was the gumball you feed to Bailey?”
Leaning in closely so that I could hear her she whispered, “It was white!”