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4th grader being dishonest about completing school work. WWYD?


TheAttachedMama
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Hi Everyone,

 

I need some advice. This is the second time (in a short amount of time) that I have caught my 4th grade son lying about completing school work or doing certain things.

 

This morning, I suspected that he hadn't *really* done some of the school work/chores I assigned him. (He was "finished" with everything by 8AM this morning, and I didn't understand how that could be possible.) Since this wasn't the first time he lied to me about school, I sat him down for a long "talk". I told him my concerns in a very factual way, and I tried to give him every opportunity to be honest. Our conversation went something like this:

 

Me: "How could you have finished all of these things in such a short period of time? Are you being honest with me? I want to give you a chance to be honest right now. The other day I found out that you lied about these things. I would much rather you just tell me if you didn't really do these things than lie to me about it. It is no big deal if you didn't do these things, we can go and do them right now. But I want to be able to trust you when you tell me things. I want you to be a man of your word. So I am gong to ask you one last time, and I want you to think before you answer. OK?, did you do these things? "

 

Him: "I really did all of these things!"

 

Me: "And you are being honest about these things? (I take out his list of things to do and start to go through it.) You really did xtra math? And you practiced your piano? All your songs? And you brushed your teeth?" (Go through the list.)

 

Him: "Yes! and Yes"

 

Me: "Becuase all you have to do is tell me the truth about things. If you didn't do it, just be honest! :) I would rather you have not really practiced piano than lie about it. Lying is so much worse than not wanting to practice your piano. So just tell me right now."

 

He looks me straight in the face and says, "I really did all of these things. I got up at 5AM this morning, so I had plenty of time to do all of these things."

---------

SO....in other words, I gave him plenty of opportunity to tell me the truth.   I was still suspicious about a few things, so I went over to my laptop and pulled up his xtra math records in front of him.   I showed him that he hadn't logged in for 2 weeks.  (Although he has told me has been doing this every week.)   Then, he comes out and tells me the truth when I show him this evidence.  He then admits that he didn't do half the things on his list.  (He only did the things he thought I could check.)  

 

I know this might not sound like the worse offense in the world.   Lying can seem like a small thing, but I really dislike dishonesty.  I understand doing things that are wrong.   We all make mistakes, and we all have errors in judgment from time to time.   But I would so much rather have a child who can take responsibility when they do wrong instead of trying to cover things up or take the easy way out with a lie.   So I take lying very seriously.   (That is why I gave him so many chances to tell the truth this morning.)  

 

I also want to nip this behavior in the bud right now.    He is not my only child.   I am trying to guide him towards independence in some areas.   In order for that to happen, I don't want to always be second guessing about whether or not he is being honest when he says he has done something.   You know?   

 

That being said, I am not sure how to proceed from here.    My concern is that I am only teaching him how not to get caught in a lie!   I am only teaching him to be a better liar and get better at covering his tracks.  He already does all of the things that I can physically check.   (For example, I can easily see if he completed a workbook page.   But I can't easily see that he practiced piano if he wants to do this at 5AM.  I am certainly not up at that time to hear it.)   

 

 

SO--my question is....how would you handle this?   

 

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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Well, all kids lie and it is developmentally appropriate for them to do so. It feels like you kind of set him up to fail in the way you went about it, though. You knew he was likely lying so why ask him? He's 9/10 - when faced with the prospect of owning up to his mistakes and getting in trouble, of course he's going to continue lying about it. He's doing it to avoid you getting upset with him and getting in trouble. He just doesn't have the brain maturity at this point to do otherwise.

 

I think mostly what any of this should tell you is that this child is not ready for this kind of independent work. He's going to need you to supervise him.

 

So, what to do?

 

Instead of asking him if he did he Xtra Math, just state that you noticed the system showed he hadn't logged in in two weeks so here's the computer, best get started.

 

Piano practice? I didn't hear it so have a seat and get started. I'll set the timer. As long as I can hear you doing what you're supposed to be doing, when the timer goes off you're done.

 

Workbooks? My kids do some of that independently, but they turn it in when they're done. No workbook, no work? I noticed you didn't do your x today. Here's the workbook/pencil. Have a seat.

 

Check it sooner. Check it often. Scaffold the child so that he doesn't have to lie. The natural consequence to not doing your work is that you have to do it later during what might be your free time. The other natural consequence is you do your schoolwork in the order I determine and when I determine you should do it. And of course all of this is another natural consequence. If I can't trust you to do your work independently, then I'll walk you through all of it until you show you are ready for that sort of indepence/trust.

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Check, check, check. You can ask, but also verify. 

He is showing you that he is not ready for this much independence. 

If dishonesty is a hot button for you, don't ask. Don't give him the opportunity to lie. Let him know that you will check everything. Follow through. He will learn-eventually- that lying is of no benefit.

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My DS11 always had time management issues. He has a planner and he writes down start and stop time per subject as well as a brief description. That gives him a visual display of what has been completed because this kid has no sense of time. My DS12 can survive on a task checklist but DS11 would unintentionally check off the wrong box because he got distracted.

 

My kids can't even remember if they brushed their teeth even though they brush their teeth at 9pm most nights. I joked about putting a brush teeth sign in sheet outside the bathroom door.

 

Each kid is different but I would not expect a 4th grader to be independent about completing chores or school work. My condo HOA won't allow loud music before 8am so no way my kids practice before I wake up. My kids self teach piano but they need me around for pointers so I guess for your child maybe set a practice time? I find that it is easier for my DS11 to be on task when on a fixed schedule. When we follow a rigid schedule, it was a lot easier for him.

 

How long do you expect your son to be on Xtramath per day? Mine was supposed to use Xtramath for 10 mins daily when in public charter in 2nd/3rd grade and they could never remember to do so because 10mins is a short time period. Short tasks just don't register in their minds. My kids did their Xtramath on their iPads so I could see them do it while making my coffee. Sometimes I forgot to remind and their teacher did not care so much about it so I was also slack about it. Xtramath is very boring though and I can understand why my kids just wanted to get it done if I reminded them.

 

I agree lying is normal at that age. Since my kids are scatter brain at times, it is just easier to implement task management tools to help them get things done. I have Qustodio installed for my DS11 because he will go into game sites. I can't monitor him all the time and he gets distracted easily.

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Well, all kids lie and it is developmentally appropriate for them to do so. It feels like you kind of set him up to fail in the way you went about it, though. You knew he was likely lying so why ask him? He's 9/10 - when faced with the prospect of owning up to his mistakes and getting in trouble, of course he's going to continue lying about it. He's doing it to avoid you getting upset with him and getting in trouble. He just doesn't have the brain maturity at this point to do otherwise.

 

Yea, I agree with you.  I didn't go about it the best way.   That is why I posted what I said so that you could see how the lie came out.    Parenting is harrrrrrd.

 

In my defense, I wasn't really certain that he had lied when I talked to him this morning.  I only suspected because I didn't see how it was possible for him to have gotten all of that stuff done in such a short period of time.   So--I just went with him with my concern and the reason for my suspicions and tried to give him a chance to be honest.   When I still suspected he was lying, I then remembered I could pull up his xtra math login record.   In the future, I will check the computer before talking to him.  BUT---that is sort of my point:   I am worried that I am only teaching him how not to get caught....how to cover his tracks better.   When what I really want to teach him is the importance of being honest even when it is hard.   (Because it is hard to take responsibility when you do things wrong.)   

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My DS11 always had time management issues. He has a planner and he writes down start and stop time per subject as well as a brief description. That gives him a visual display of what has been completed because this kid has no sense of time. My DS12 can survive on a task checklist but DS11 would unintentionally check off the wrong box because he got distracted.

 

My kids can't even remember if they brushed their teeth even though they brush their teeth at 9pm most nights. I joked about putting a brush teeth sign in sheet outside the bathroom door.

 

Each kid is different but I would not expect a 4th grader to be independent about completing chores or school work. My condo HOA won't allow loud music before 8am so no way my kids practice before I wake up. My kids self teach piano but they need me around for pointers so I guess for your child maybe set a practice time? I find that it is easier for my DS11 to be on task when on a fixed schedule. When we follow a rigid schedule, it was a lot easier for him.

 

How long do you expect your son to be on Xtramath per day? Mine was supposed to use Xtramath for 10 mins daily when in public charter in 2nd/3rd grade and they could never remember to do so because 10mins is a short time period. Short tasks just don't register in their minds. My kids did their Xtramath on their iPads so I could see them do it while making my coffee. Sometimes I forgot to remind and their teacher did not care so much about it so I was also slack about it. Xtramath is very boring though and I can understand why my kids just wanted to get it done if I reminded them.

 

I agree lying is normal at that age. Since my kids are scatter brain at times, it is just easier to implement task management tools to help them get things done. I have Qustodio installed for my DS11 because he will go into game sites. I can't monitor him all the time and he gets distracted easily.

He goes to piano lessons once per week.  His teacher assigns him 15 minutes of practice per day.  (Not long at all!)   His younger sister likes to get her practice in first thing in the morning so she has more time to play.   So he has taken to practicing when he first wakes up too.    I guess I will now change it so he has to do it when I can supervise.

 

Same thing with xtra math.   That takes 5 maybe 10 minutes to complete a day.   It actually took him longer to lie about it than to just do the thing.   (eye roll)  

 

And my son does NOT do school work independently, but he has a few things on his checklist that he is supposed to do independently.   (Like xtra math, etc.)   He is not my only child, so I really do need to lead him to a point where I can give him a simple 5 minute task to do and trust that he is gong to do it.   

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It seems that you're overwhelming him with all that independence.

 

If he wants to practice at 5AM fine, but he must make a recording of him doing it. 

Perhaps tell him has to take a screenshot of his XtraMath progress at the end of each section and save all of the files in a folder on the computer desktop. This will give you the date that he did it because it'll be on the screenshot.

 

If you can not monitor him during, then I would just make it a habit to sit down at before/after/during lunch and check his work. Anything that is not done needs to be done.

 

Most people, regardless of age, need someone to hold them accountable for unpleasant, but neccesary tasks and its okay. Give him the support he needs in this regard.

 

Edited by mom2bee
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Check, check, check. You can ask, but also verify. 

He is showing you that he is not ready for this much independence. 

If dishonesty is a hot button for you, don't ask. Don't give him the opportunity to lie. Let him know that you will check everything. Follow through. He will learn-eventually- that lying is of no benefit.

 

 

I totally agree with this.  I also agree with not ASKING if you know it hasn't been done, it just creates a high-pressure situation where a child with a tendency to lie will lie.  

 

In our house, I might have him write a letter of apology with explanations that show he understands about trust and losing trust.  But ultimately, the main thing to do is just check daily, or even after each bit of work, to be sure it's done to satisfaction.  My 4th grader does many things independently or with minimal mom-time, but I glance at everything as it is completed so that I know we are good to move on.  

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Are we talking oldest child here? It feels like he's probably your oldest and it's so easy to expect more from the oldest because they are the oldest. It's easy to mentally leap frog them ahead to a spot that they're developmentally just not at.

 

Yea, I agree with you. I didn't go about it the best way. That is why I posted what I said so that you could see how the lie came out. Parenting is harrrrrrd.

 

In my defense, I wasn't really certain that he had lied when I talked to him this morning. I only suspected because I didn't see how it was possible for him to have gotten all of that stuff done in such a short period of time. So--I just went with him with my concern and the reason for my suspicions and tried to give him a chance to be honest. When I still suspected he was lying, I then remembered I could pull up his xtra math login record. In the future, I will check the computer before talking to him. BUT---that is sort of my point: I am worried that I am only teaching him how not to get caught....how to cover his tracks better. When what I really want to teach him is the importance of being honest even when it is hard. (Because it is hard to take responsibility when you do things wrong.)

You cannot teach him this until his brain is ready. He's 9/10 years old. Keep telling yourself this. It's developmentally appropriate. Will some children be better about this sort of thing? Absolutely because that's how humans work and there are variations in the norm. You're not teaching him to cover his track, you're giving him the support he needs to succeed.

 

It's easy, when you have more than one child to want the oldest to be more independent, but you are setting him and you up for conflict and failure. He still deserves every bit as much attention as he did when he was younger or when there were fewer siblings that also needed your attention for schoolwork. It's tough to juggle everyone, but be careful in your expectations. IME, it's better to drop your expectations for independence and instead work on how you structure your day so that everyone is more likely to succed. At our house at that age, the oldest was set-up with a task to do on his own near us while the younger sisters and I worked on something else. I'd keep an eye on his progress and check when he said he was finished. A 4th grader is ready for limited, supervised independence.

 

And of course taking responsibility for your failings is important, but even adults struggle with this. My dad's a union rep...he'll always tell folks to tell the truth because it will go better for everyone involved if they do. Even after the tell the truth pep talk, people still lie because they're people. It's what people do.

 

It might be helpful to view lying less as a great big, scary, huge, massive moral failure and more like a normal human quirk. Don't put so much weight behind it so that you can focus less on worrying about raising a dishonest psychopath and more about how you can support your child while his brain development catches up to your expectations. ;)

 

It is hard! We all do things we would totally have done differently in hindsight. Hang in there.

Edited by mamaraby
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I know you want/need to be able to give him a task and expect him to do it, but he's not at that point yet. Or maybe he was and now he's not.

 

Any work that he wants to do independently must be something you can verify afterward.  So he can do workbook work because you can check that after you get up.  But he can't do his piano practice until you can hear him doing it. He can't do xtra math when you aren't up to see him doing it.

 

This may sound like "punishment" for both of you, but I would enforce it on your schedule, not his.  So he wants to be done with things early for free time.  Sorry, but you have to wait until mom is available to inspect your work because you can't be trusted to tell the truth.  And that will cut into his free time.

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I try very hard to avoid asking questions that would lead to a lie. Instead of asking "did you do xyz" or "how did you have time to do xyz" I say "show me the work you did". No arguments over when, where or how or what happened. Just show the results. If the appropriate results are not presented then the assignment is done "again" (or for the first time)

 

I know that absolute honesty is very important to some parents, but I have given up fighting that battle with my kids. What I would like to happen and our reality are too different things right now.

 

Also, I tell the parents of my 4th graders that we would all love to have a kid who can be given an assignment, go work on it cheerfully and independently, and do a great job on it with very little supervison. Those kids do exist, but most of us parents get the 99% of 4th graders who will not or cannot do that.

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Ds did this on and off when new independence was gained. I handled it much like you did, by giving him the chance to come clean. When he was younger he wouldn't, I would shiw him I knew, we would have to discuss lying. There are no consequences with me if he is honest. It just allows me to help him succeed. If he lies, then consequences for lying.

 

I followed up the conversation with "How can I help you?" It was important that he knew why I was asking him to do the things on the list and that he knew if he did not do them, someone else had to assume the responsibility. That wasn't okay. So we would discuss how we could work together for the tasks to get done. Just punishing did not work. I never want him to comply out of fear. I want him to understand himself, how to get things managed, and how working together as a community means we all do our assigned bit. As he has gotten older, the conversations have grown into more depth, but initially it was just him getting the idea of how family helped on another. None of us can do it all alone, and we all make mistakes. That is not something to be ashamed of, but to come together about.

 

I find it is a process. Now, he might initially panic and lie, but about five minutes later he shows up with honesty. Most of the time he does not lie about it, he feels badly but is honest. My parents were highly reactive. If I was honest, they would go overboard and freak out. It is important to me that Ds knows that is not the case with me. I do not want him living with shame and hiding because of it. As he gets bigger, the consequences grow so much if he lies and tries to hide things.

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Wow, I have to say, I am totally shocked that so many people feel that lying is "developmentally appropriate". What??? Lying is wrong. Period. And yes, a nine year old's conscience most definitely knows it, too. 

 

OP, I think your conversation with your son is exactly what you needed to do. I agree with your efforts to give him the opportunity to come clean and be honest before you "busted" him. That sent the message of how important being able to trust his word is. However, once his lie was exposed, then he needs to experience a negative consequence. Certainly that includes future loss of independence and trust. (Yes, you'll need to check up on him more closely now.) But also something that he will feel more immediately too. Make it so that in the future, he knows that consequences will be less severe by telling you the truth about it up front.

 

I've gone through this one with my son, mostly with his independent reading because there wasn't anything written to go with it. Since I work part time it's one of the things he does when I'm not home. Our talks were similar to yours. I never got any immediate changes, but eventually over time his heart has changed and I believe I can trust him now. I do not believe we would now have that trust if I had just brushed it off as "something kids do". As we went along, there were occasions where we weren't sure whether or not to believe what he was saying, and pointed out to him that it was his past actions of deception that were now causing us to doubt him. I think he understood this. Also, we are Christians, and we talked about how this was affecting his relationship with God, which he takes seriously. I typed out a bunch of Bible verses about lying/telling the truth and hung it up on his wall right in front of his desk where he works as a constant reminder to him any time he might feel tempted. 

 

I work part time. I don't have enough time to school both my kids in the morning before I go if I have to check up on my son's independent work so closely. I HAVE to be able to trust him, or this doesn't work. He knows this. He grades all of his own assignments (except WWS and tests). I only occasionally flip open his notebooks to make sure there's stuff in there. 

 

I think it is important to train our kids to be people of integrity. We don't just want them to do their work because they know they will be getting checked up on. We want them to do it because they know it is the right thing to do. That is the key to being successful later in life as an adult. His employer and his wife need to be able to trust that he did/will do what he says. I think you are right in wanting to teach him this. Please don't believe that a nine year old isn't capable of making moral choices towards truth and honor.

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He demonstrated that he's not ready to manage his own time reliably and with integrity. The natural consequence of this is that you now know he needs more supervision. It doesn't suit you to start supervising at 5am so he no longer has the freedom to start his schoolwork whenever he likes, he's going to have to do it when you are available to supervise.

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Wow, I have to say, I am totally shocked that so many people feel that lying is "developmentally appropriate". What??? Lying is wrong. Period. And yes, a nine year old's conscience most definitely knows it, too.

 

OP, I think your conversation with your son is exactly what you needed to do. I agree with your efforts to give him the opportunity to come clean and be honest before you "busted" him. That sent the message of how important being able to trust his word is. However, once his lie was exposed, then he needs to experience a negative consequence. Certainly that includes future loss of independence and trust. (Yes, you'll need to check up on him more closely now.) But also something that he will feel more immediately too. Make it so that in the future, he knows that consequences will be less severe by telling you the truth about it up front.

 

I've gone through this one with my son, mostly with his independent reading because there wasn't anything written to go with it. Since I work part time it's one of the things he does when I'm not home. Our talks were similar to yours. I never got any immediate changes, but eventually over time his heart has changed and I believe I can trust him now. I do not believe we would now have that trust if I had just brushed it off as "something kids do". As we went along, there were occasions where we weren't sure whether or not to believe what he was saying, and pointed out to him that it was his past actions of deception that were now causing us to doubt him. I think he understood this. Also, we are Christians, and we talked about how this was affecting his relationship with God, which he takes seriously. I typed out a bunch of Bible verses about lying/telling the truth and hung it up on his wall right in front of his desk where he works as a constant reminder to him any time he might feel tempted.

 

I work part time. I don't have enough time to school both my kids in the morning before I go if I have to check up on my son's independent work so closely. I HAVE to be able to trust him, or this doesn't work. He knows this. He grades all of his own assignments (except WWS and tests). I only occasionally flip open his notebooks to make sure there's stuff in there.

 

I think it is important to train our kids to be people of integrity. We don't just want them to do their work because they know they will be getting checked up on. We want them to do it because they know it is the right thing to do. That is the key to being successful later in life as an adult. His employer and his wife need to be able to trust that he did/will do what he says. I think you are right in wanting to teach him this. Please don't believe that a nine year old isn't capable of making moral choices towards truth and honor.

We are not born with inbuilt honesty but with inbuilt survival. As parents we teach them the skills required for the life we intend them to have. The OP's son hasn't learnt all the skills he needs yet. This doesn't mean he is immoral or doesn't have a conscience - just his skills need more work.

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I just wouldn't ask in the future. He's proven that, for now, he doesn't know how to be truthful about this stuff. Check on it instead. Every time. It's a pain, but he needs you to. Some kids are ready for daily work to be independent like that at this age, but many are not. For us, age 9-10 was the most parent intensive for homeschooling. It floored me that it was like that. I thought it would be a steady uphill climb toward independence but it just wasn't. And 4th-5th grade were the worst. They were doing more work, that was more complex, that required more thinking and organization, but they were less able to do the organization and executive functioning tasks for it without me right there. They would have these cool independent pushes in little ways about specific things, but overall it was just not a time of great independence. And then, at age 11 (and now at age 12), it is radically different and they are ready for me to leave them a list of things and for it to really get done.

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I think everyone else had covered what I would have said. I'll only add, I've found it more effective to never ask questions about bad behavior when I already know what they did. If I know they lied I'm not going to ask them if they did it. I'll just look straight at them and say, "You did not do XtraMath today but you marked it completed."

 

You might also carefully evaluate his workload workout letting him know this so he doesn't connect the dots. If you really are expecting too much you can back it off gently so he won't suspect ditching/whining works. Or perhaps the opposite; some kids balk when it's too easy or beneath their dignity.

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Wow, I have to say, I am totally shocked that so many people feel that lying is "developmentally appropriate". What??? Lying is wrong. Period. And yes, a nine year old's conscience most definitely knows it, too.

Is truth telling preferable from a social contract perspective? Absolutely. Trust is an important part of how society works. Is lying always wrong? Nope. I suspect everyone tells white lies to spare feelings or enable the greater good.

 

The rest of what followed seems like a great way to teach kids to hide their lies better namely making it such a big, huge deal so that it becomes preferable to lie in order to avoid huge consequences for what is really normal for kids this age. But the goal is not to make lying such a huge deal, the goal is instead to teach kids to tell the truth all the time and to give them the tools and support to do so in a way that takes into account their brain development.

 

A 9yo's brain is absolutely different than an adult's brain and expecting the same from a 9yo that you would from an adult is ridiculous. The line from 9yo acting like the OP's an an adult male who cannot be trusted by his employer or his significant other is not a straight line.

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I think that for that kind of lying some type of immediate negative consequence is called for. Here losing electronics for a couple of days would probably make an impression. But then moving forward near term, as others have said, he loses the freedom to do his work when and where he wants so that you can monitor him.

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I don't think the problem here is that your child is lying. I think the problem is that he isn't being adequately supervised. I wouldn't even punish him because - really, you're the one who goofed up. He's just not mature enough for this level of responsibility and independence.

 

Reschedule your day so that you are either supervising everything or checking it all immediately. If it's important, supervise it. Tell your son that you need to re-evaluate where he is so you can catch up to where he's supposed to be, and then move on that. If you don't put him in a situation where lying is easy, he won't do it.

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I have to say that I don't think *all* kids lie or that it's a developmental milestone or anything. My kids are a bit weird, but they don't lie. No, I'm not deluded about it. They have finally learned to fudge the truth a little but at age 9 they still couldn't even do that. They were too black and white about the world still.

 

But I don't think kids lying at this age is a moral failing. It's totally normal. I definitely think 90% of my kids being super truthful was just on some weird internal makeup they have. But whatever I did to contribute to it, it was being super transparently truthful with them nearly all the time... and for me, that would have meant that when I knew something - like that their work wasn't finished - it wouldn't have occurred to me not to just say that straight out. I wouldn't have asked - in part because of what people are saying here about how it pushed him into the corner - but also because it wouldn't have felt truthful to me to pretend I didn't know already.

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Yea, I agree with you.  I didn't go about it the best way.   That is why I posted what I said so that you could see how the lie came out.    Parenting is harrrrrrd.

 

In my defense, I wasn't really certain that he had lied when I talked to him this morning.  I only suspected because I didn't see how it was possible for him to have gotten all of that stuff done in such a short period of time.   So--I just went with him with my concern and the reason for my suspicions and tried to give him a chance to be honest.   When I still suspected he was lying, I then remembered I could pull up his xtra math login record.   In the future, I will check the computer before talking to him.  BUT---that is sort of my point:   I am worried that I am only teaching him how not to get caught....how to cover his tracks better.   When what I really want to teach him is the importance of being honest even when it is hard.   (Because it is hard to take responsibility when you do things wrong.)   

 

The natural consequence to lying is losing trust/independence. So by pulling him back and requiring him to "prove" his work, you are a) ensuring it gets done and b) giving him a lesson that only honesty earns trust. I agree with the PP who outlined how to go about it - it doesn't need to be punitive, just a natural consequence. "I see you aren't ready to do things independently yet, so we will go back to having you check in with me to make sure I see you are doing what needs to be done. Hopefully you will be able to work independently soon."

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....and for me, that would have meant that when I knew something - like that their work wasn't finished - it wouldn't have occurred to me not to just say that straight out. I wouldn't have asked - in part because of what people are saying here about how it pushed him into the corner - but also because it wouldn't have felt truthful to me to pretend I didn't know already.

 

 

Well, just to reiterate, the reason I asked at first was because I didn't know if his work was finished or not.   I asked how it was possible to get so much work done in such a short period of time.   (Because that is what I was thinking.)    After I asked that, I tried to think of how I could check whether he did these things, and the only thing I knew of that I could check was xtra math....which I did.   

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Is truth telling preferable from a social contract perspective? Absolutely. Trust is an important part of how society works. Is lying always wrong? Nope. I suspect everyone tells white lies to spare feelings or enable the greater good.

 

The rest of what followed seems like a great way to teach kids to hide their lies better namely making it such a big, huge deal so that it becomes preferable to lie in order to avoid huge consequences for what is really normal for kids this age. But the goal is not to make lying such a huge deal, the goal is instead to teach kids to tell the truth all the time and to give them the tools and support to do so in a way that takes into account their brain development.

 

A 9yo's brain is absolutely different than an adult's brain and expecting the same from a 9yo that you would from an adult is ridiculous. The line from 9yo acting like the OP's an an adult male who cannot be trusted by his employer or his significant other is not a straight line.

 

Well, I disagree that lying can be a good thing.  But that is probably my personality type because I value truth and facts.  And we could have a whole conversation about the ethics of white lies.....But I really don't want this thread to go there.   Suffice it to say, in the case I am specifically asking about,  his lie wasn't a "white lie" told in order to save my feelings or promote the greater good.   He was simply a kid who was lying to get out of work.   So a debate about the worthiness of white lies doesn't really add to this conversation IMO.

 

So....that brings us to these points:

Was his lie developmentally normal?  Yes.  

Was his lie typical for a child his age?  Yes.  

Do many kids his age tell lies like that?  Yes.    

Do many adults tell lies?  Yes.

Does that mean lying to get out of work is morally acceptable and right?   No.  Most people and cultures around the world would generally perceive lying to get out of work as a negative character trait.   Can we agree on that?   :)   

 

Does that mean my son is a terrible person?  No!   But, I do take lying seriously.   So I am looking for ways to lovingly and gently teach my son the value of honesty.   :)  I am not looking to be punitive, instead, I am looking for ways to reach his heart.   :)  And that is what I am specifically asking about in this thread.  

 

Speaking of being honest with one another (but still tactful and respectful).....   When I read your posts, it makes me really really defensive.  I am sure that is not your intent.  So I have re-read your latest post several times trying to see the good intent behind your words, but I am still not clear where you are trying to go with your words.   Perhaps you could explain to me what you mean when you wrote:

"The rest of what followed seems like a great way to teach kids to hide their lies better namely making it such a big, huge deal so that it becomes preferable to lie in order to avoid huge consequences for what is really normal for kids this age."

 

Are you saying that me coming to him with the reasons for my suspicion made it a "big, huge deal"?  Talking to a child makes it a "big, huge deal"?  So I should have not talked to him?   

Look at things from my perspective:   I originally couldn't understand how he could have possibly finished his assignments in such a short amount of time.   I suspected he might by lying, but I didn't know.   I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.   The way I saw it, there were numerous possible explanations for this:     Perhaps he rushed through his assignments instead of doing a good job.   Perhaps he could have innocently forgotten to do some of the things.      Perhpas he might have not understood his assignments. That is why I was trying to talk to him and see what really happened.   Was I not suppose to have had a conversation with him?  

 

Secondly, what were these "huge consequences" that are you are talking about?   My conversation?   Again, I am confused.

 

I am also confused about where you are going with these statements:   

 

...expecting the same from a 9yo that you would from an adult is ridiculous. The line from 9yo acting like the OP's an an adult male who cannot be trusted by his employer or his significant other is not a straight line.

 

I personally do not feel like I treated my 10-year-old like an adult.   In fact, just the opposite!   Can you tell me where you are getting this idea?    In my experience, adults are held to a much higher standard.   They aren't going to be given multiple chances from an employer in order to teach them a better way.    Let's say that I have a history with lying at work.   Do you really think my boss is gong to call me in and give me chance after chance and have "long talks" about how lying isn't a "good thing" to do?  No way.

 

Is a college professor going to give their adult student (who has a history of lying about assignments) chance after chance in order to "teach" them the value of honesty?   No way.   So again, I personally feel like I treated my 10 year old like a 10 year old.   I know that lying doesn't make him "bad".  I know that it is age appropriate.  But I also know that he needs to learn a better way of handling tough situations like this.   

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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I think it is normal to want more independence from children at this age - my daughter is 9 and gradually over the last year I have seen her becoming more independent. But I would start where it is easier and where the consequences for not doing things are more obvious. If he has the chore to make his bed, let him sleep in it unmade if he doesn't do it. If he must put his clothes in the laundry, don't remind him and don't wash them. Let him make his own breakfast or lunch or even supper. Send him shopping for you with a grocery list and some money and if he brings back the slip and the change without stealing or lying then give him the change - if its wrong or missing he must pay you the missing amount and then whatever is missing from his own money. (Depending on the safety of the areas you live in this can still be arranged in a way that remains safe even if he cannot get to the shops alone).

 

How much alone time does your child get? How much time can he be with friends where there are few adults around or where the adults who are around are unlikely to jump in and instead allow the kids to solve problems by themselves - within reason of course? School work is probably NOT the place to start with responsibility. If he goes to swimming lessons can he get everything ready by himself? Could he pack a bag for a night visit by himself - how about for a weekend camp? Does he understand that he and only he is responsible for his own feelings - that no one else can MAKE him feel a certain way and that is own behaviour is only his choice?

 

Having watched boys in a school classroom I felt that they in particular (more than the girls in that class) needed to be given responsibility for things - things that mattered to BOYS and NOT their schoolwork. Could you give him an ipad or tablet to play on with a timer and expect him to turn it off by himself when the timer rang and then go and do another set activity? Could you do that when he had a deadline to be at another place which did involve a deadline (like a party or homeschool meet or swimming lesson) and would he be able to still be ready by himself?

 

These are the things I would start with. The schoolwork I would get to much later and then only his favourite subject first before adding anything else.

 

:) - now to sort out where I need to move with my daughter next with independence.

 

As far as honesty goes - I wouldn't touch it on this issue yet. Yes, he should be honest, but the consequence for dishonesty in this case becomes an adult punishment rather than a natural consequence of the dishonesty unless it is addressed from: "lying breaks trust - I do not trust you therefore you must sit here or therefore you must show proof of all your work and when I see you have done it I will give you a much smaller task that I can check up on before allowing you this freedom to lie to me again."

Edited by Tanikit
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My #2 did the same thing at that age. As others have said, I started requiring that she do some things when I was around to check, and I stopped putting her in positions where she could lie. She was also my child who always preferred to play rather than do schoolwork. It took her a lot longer to reach true independence, but she got there! 

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I think it is normal to want more independence from children at this age - my daughter is 9 and gradually over the last year I have seen her becoming more independent. 

Yes, I agree.    He has the same independent work list and chore list as his younger sister.   (She is 8).   This is also the same school list and chore list that he had last year, and the year before.   He used to be able to complete this list no problem.  (And his younger sister is able to complete the list.)  

 

Now he is suddenly having problems with it.  He has started to learn that he can say he did these things instead of actually doing them.   

 (And just to clarify, his "list" isn't all of his school.   The vast majority of his subjects are taught by me.  But I give him a few things to do on his own to help teach him independence.)   

 

How much alone time does your child get? How much time can he be with friends where there are few adults around or where the adults who are around are unlikely to jump in and instead allow the kids to solve problems by themselves - within reason of course? School work is probably NOT the place to start with responsibility. If he goes to swimming lessons can he get everything ready by himself? Could he pack a bag for a night visit by himself - how about for a weekend camp? Does he understand that he and only he is responsible for his own feelings - that no one else can MAKE him feel a certain way and that is own behaviour is only his choice?

 

He gets a few hours everyday to play with his siblings.  Then, He gets a few hours everyday to play with friends alone.    We live in a very safe neighborhood, and all of the kids here play together outside.      So he is typically out playing with kids as soon as his school work is done.    I am nearby in the house, or sometimes at the swingset with my 3 year old, but not hovering.   

 

As far as packing for swim lessons, etc...    I always let him try to pack for himself.  And I allow him to pack his own bag for Grandmas.  But, he does struggle with planning more than his sister.   (For example, he sometimes forgets little things like socks or something at swim lessons.)  And he does struggle with remembering things more than many kids.  (He is like me!  We are dreamers, and often lost in our thoughts.   So it is easy for us to be day dreaming and not remember to gather our books.)    But for the most part, he does a pretty good job for a 10-year-old...and someone with my genetic makeup!  hahaha

 

As far as understanding that he is responsible for his own behavior and feelings, that is a harder one!  From the time he was little, I have tried to teach him this.  But, it is a hard lesson for him to learn.   He is my child who is most likely to blame others when something doesn't go his way....or to blame others when he does something wrong.  But I am working on that one.  

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Well, I disagree that lying can be a good thing. But that is probably my personality type because I value truth and facts. And we could have a whole conversation about the ethics of white lies.....But I really don't want this thread to go there. Suffice it to say, in the case I am specifically asking about, his lie wasn't a "white lie" told in order to save my feelings or promote the greater good. He was simply a kid who was lying to get out of work. So a debate about the worthiness of white lies doesn't really add to this conversation IMO.

 

 

Speaking of being honest with one another (but still tactful and respectful)..... When I read your posts, it makes me really really defensive. I am sure that is not your intent. So I have re-read your latest post several times trying to see the good intent behind your words, but I am still not clear where you are trying to go with your words. Perhaps you could explain to me what you mean when you wrote

I was specifically responding to milknhoney's post with that response and not yours. So....I don't really see how it applies to you or why you're taking offense.

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I think second time means that you've just got to stay on top of him for his independent work as well. Doesn't mean you've got to be all sharp about it, though. If he practices piano for only fifteen minutes a day, it won't kill him to practice again for you in the afternoon or in the evening. And you can be nice about it. "Let me hear you practice--I like it."

Extra math--let's check your work together. Hey, you did a great job. How about extra play time tomorrow?

Chores--let's see what kind of job you did. Hey, you did a wonderful job with your bed. Straighten up that drawer with your clothes in it and you'll be all caught up!

 

Checking doesn't need to be punitive. It's a way to make doing your work far more rewarding than pretending you did it.

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How about having a conversation with him along the lines of, I love you and don't want to put you in a position where you are tempted to lie. And it seems like that is what our checklist system has become, too big a temptation to resist. So let's change things up. Then offer some monitoring ideas, ask him for his ideas on how to help him be honest/monitored. Hopefully he can see it as you being on the same team working toward a common goal.

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Well, I think it takes a lot of courage to ask a question like this and post your conversation and open yourself up to the commentary of others!

 

I don't have any great answers (and found myself able to get some good advice thanks to YOUR question without having to put myself out there), but I know that what I've done myself is try to notice the times when my kids ARE honest with me even about difficult things and find ways to show my appreciation for that, even if honesty sounds like, "No, I've done none of my school work, even though you reminded me three times and used the word 'beseech,' because I was watching baby brother draw on the wall. Oh, and I gave him the marker. Are you mad?"

 

And maybe the flip side of this is that your son really, really cares what you think of him and just wants to make you happy and, like many kids, kind of tunes out the lecture and focuses on what he thinks you're really thinking? I don't know. I did that when my 6 year old said, "Mom, is Santa Claus really real? Tell the truth."

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As far as understanding that he is responsible for his own behavior and feelings, that is a harder one!  From the time he was little, I have tried to teach him this.  But, it is a hard lesson for him to learn.   He is my child who is most likely to blame others when something doesn't go his way....or to blame others when he does something wrong.  But I am working on that one.  

I know many adults who do not know that they are responsible for their own feelings - this sometimes takes a very long time to achieve. 

 

If he did it well and has now learnt he can lie then maybe it is time to change something - a bit like not letting a president be president too long else they seem to become dictators - he probably needs a different way of doing his school. You could always try testing him on his independent work once a week and if he gets whatever score you want him to get then he's fine even if he didn't do any of the work during the week, but if he doesn't get a high enough score then he will have to sit with you and do extra independent work while you watch - although this will not work for very many kids, some of them would like the challenge and will probably test it by doing none of the work and trying to pass the test and that would be ok too. Somehow they have to make their own decisions even if we don't agree, but then they need to know the consequences and be prepared to suffer them if they choose unwisely.

 

Although I do not have boys, I know 10 and 11 can be quite challenging times with them. 

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Hi Everyone,

 

I need some advice. This is the second time (in a short amount of time) that I have caught my 4th grade son lying about completing school work or doing certain things.

 

This morning, I suspected that he hadn't *really* done some of the school work/chores I assigned him. (He was "finished" with everything by 8AM this morning, and I didn't understand how that could be possible.) Since this wasn't the first time he lied to me about school, I sat him down for a long "talk". I told him my concerns in a very factual way, and I tried to give him every opportunity to be honest. Our conversation went something like this:

 

Me: "How could you have finished all of these things in such a short period of time? Are you being honest with me? I want to give you a chance to be honest right now. The other day I found out that you lied about these things. I would much rather you just tell me if you didn't really do these things than lie to me about it. It is no big deal if you didn't do these things, we can go and do them right now. But I want to be able to trust you when you tell me things. I want you to be a man of your word. So I am gong to ask you one last time, and I want you to think before you answer. OK?, did you do these things? "

 

Him: "I really did all of these things!"

 

Me: "And you are being honest about these things? (I take out his list of things to do and start to go through it.) You really did xtra math? And you practiced your piano? All your songs? And you brushed your teeth?" (Go through the list.)

 

Him: "Yes! and Yes"

 

Me: "Becuase all you have to do is tell me the truth about things. If you didn't do it, just be honest! :) I would rather you have not really practiced piano than lie about it. Lying is so much worse than not wanting to practice your piano. So just tell me right now."

 

He looks me straight in the face and says, "I really did all of these things. I got up at 5AM this morning, so I had plenty of time to do all of these things."

---------

SO....in other words, I gave him plenty of opportunity to tell me the truth.   I was still suspicious about a few things, so I went over to my laptop and pulled up his xtra math records in front of him.   I showed him that he hadn't logged in for 2 weeks.  (Although he has told me has been doing this every week.)   Then, he comes out and tells me the truth when I show him this evidence.  He then admits that he didn't do half the things on his list.  (He only did the things he thought I could check.)  

 

I know this might not sound like the worse offense in the world.   Lying can seem like a small thing, but I really dislike dishonesty.  I understand doing things that are wrong.   We all make mistakes, and we all have errors in judgment from time to time.   But I would so much rather have a child who can take responsibility when they do wrong instead of trying to cover things up or take the easy way out with a lie.   So I take lying very seriously.   (That is why I gave him so many chances to tell the truth this morning.)  

 

I also want to nip this behavior in the bud right now.    He is not my only child.   I am trying to guide him towards independence in some areas.   In order for that to happen, I don't want to always be second guessing about whether or not he is being honest when he says he has done something.   You know?   

 

That being said, I am not sure how to proceed from here.    My concern is that I am only teaching him how not to get caught in a lie!   I am only teaching him to be a better liar and get better at covering his tracks.  He already does all of the things that I can physically check.   (For example, I can easily see if he completed a workbook page.   But I can't easily see that he practiced piano if he wants to do this at 5AM.  I am certainly not up at that time to hear it.)   

 

 

SO--my question is....how would you handle this?   

 

I think you've gotten a lot of strange replies.  I don't know how many times (3?) you explained that you did not KNOW he had not completed the work.  I get it.  

 

I understand the natural consequence of less independence and losing the freedom to choose when this work is completed.  But from what you said the majority of his work is already with you.  It does not sound like you are expecting all that much to be done independently, or any more than he has successfully handled in the past.  Like you, I would definitely want to nip this in the bud.  I would look for any privileges he has enjoyed by virtue of being the oldest (later bedtime?  electronic device?  screen time?) and pull it.  If I had a "nuclear option" consequence, I would use it now.  I would demonstrate by consequences that honesty is my highest priority above any other learning, growing, or task completion.  Additionally, if his 8yo sister is successfully and honestly completing similar independent tasks, I would reward her with privileges, possibly similar to ones he has lost.  

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I think you've gotten a lot of strange replies.  I don't know how many times (3?) you explained that you did not KNOW he had not completed the work.  I get it.  

 

I understand the natural consequence of less independence and losing the freedom to choose when this work is completed.  But from what you said the majority of his work is already with you.  It does not sound like you are expecting all that much to be done independently, or any more than he has successfully handled in the past.  Like you, I would definitely want to nip this in the bud.  I would look for any privileges he has enjoyed by virtue of being the oldest (later bedtime?  electronic device?  screen time?) and pull it.  If I had a "nuclear option" consequence, I would use it now.  I would demonstrate by consequences that honesty is my highest priority above any other learning, growing, or task completion.  Additionally, if his 8yo sister is successfully and honestly completing similar independent tasks, I would reward her with privileges, possibly similar to ones he has lost.  

 

Thank you SO much Another Lynn!    I kept wondering why I wasn't being understood, and so I kept trying to rephrase and clarify.

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The idea of a nine year old not knowing what's a lie and what's not is laughable to me. Of course they know, and it was only recently that people started using "developmentally appropriate" to excuse wrongdoing.

 

Nobody is excusing wrongdoing. We are, however, pointing out that some actions are, well, normal at this age. Lying is one of them. Parents are frankly awful at telling whether or not their kids are being honest. If you go the route of strict punishments, you'll have as many hits as misses, in both directions. That, or you'll be extremely cautious and only do it when you have irrefutable evidence... but that increases the odds that your kids will just learn to become better liars. Which might be great if you expect them to become champion poker players, or if you anticipate having to hide refugees from a totalitarian state in the attic, but....

 

Children lie for the same reasons adults lie: to avoid confrontation. I don't know why the OP's child didn't do the work. I do know that if he wasn't capable of managing himself well enough to do the work before, that hasn't changed just because he was caught in a lie. If you don't want your children to lie, your best bet is to never put them in a situation where lying seems like the best option. In this case, that means supervising the most important work and checking the rest on a much more frequent basis, daily or even more often.

 

I just don't see the point in being punitive when you can get the exact same results with less drama.

 

Additionally, if his 8yo sister is successfully and honestly completing similar independent tasks, I would reward her with privileges, possibly similar to ones he has lost.

 

I would not drag his sister into this. Seriously, siblings should not be used to twist the knife when you're enforcing a punishment or "loss of privileges".

Edited by Tanaqui
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"I would not drag his sister into this. Seriously, siblings should not be used to twist the knife"

 

So much. I get that the idea is to be SEEN rewarding something you want to encourage but ohhh man...It's not worth the potential fallout. Siblings ideally outlive parents. You gotta make it priority number one to set them up with as little friction as possible--as far as it is within our control as parents.

 

(Sorry can't quote)

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I guess my question is why are you expecting one so young to have so much independence over their work? It sounds like you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.  Most 4th graders would find a way to escape a list of chores and school work if given the chance, which you gave him.  Clearly he needed to be monitored more than you have been doing.  And why ask the question if you already know the answer? If you know that he didn't do it than call him on it rather than presenting him with the chance to lie.  Even kids who know they will face more trouble for lying do so when presented with the type of question you did.  Ultimately he needs more supervision. My youngest is also 9, I could not imagine expecting her to go through a list without me keeping on eye on her and then asking her if she did it all after knowing full well she hadn't. 

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The OP has said multiple times she didn't know for sure whether her son was lying. Stuff like practicing the piano doesn't seem very check-able to me. I think the heart to heart talk she had was a reasonable thing to do.

 

Yes, but the point I'm trying to make is maybe someone that young should not be left to their own devices with their school work.  Maybe she needs to be in the room while he is doing it. 

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Wow, I started reading responses and had to stop for a minute.  I am not going to dispute what any of you are saying bc I don't have research or personal experience behind me, but it sounded so bizarre to me that a 9/10 yr old kid can not be trusted with a short list of tasks to do on his own.

 

The second thing that struck me really odd is that lying is "developmentally appropriate" at that age.

 

I was going to ask for sources and books and research, but I am sure there is plenty of things out there to support any kind of POV.

 

I was just really really surprised by the responses.

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Wow, I started reading responses and had to stop for a minute.  I am not going to dispute what any of you are saying bc I don't have research or personal experience behind me, but it sounded so bizarre to me that a 9/10 yr old kid can not be trusted with a short list of tasks to do on his own.

 

The second thing that struck me really odd is that lying is "developmentally appropriate" at that age.

 

I was going to ask for sources and books and research, but I am sure there is plenty of things out there to support any kind of POV.

 

I was just really really surprised by the responses.

 

The lying to me is a separate issue.  Of course the lying thing is not good.  But to me it's setting up a kid to fail.  Would he necessarily know to say, "I didn't do the work mom because it's tough for me to be that responsible for these things on my own."?  Nope.  But to me that's the problem. 

Every kid is different.   There probably are some out there who can handle that no problem, but neither of mine could.  I've been doing this for 10 years so I'm not speaking out my blow hole.  My younger kid is 11 (so 6th grade) and he still wouldn't handle that kind of alone time so well either. 

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For those who have trouble with the term "developmentally appropriate" because it sounds like it means lying is acceptable, would "totally unsurprising at this age and not at all indicative of future character" be better? I can remember being that age and lying/being deceitful a good bit, despite being a really good kid. Now I try hard to be honest, but at that age I was juggling a lot of different priorities and didn't always get them right. I wanted to be good and to learn, but I also wanted to chat with friends and do my own thing. I also wanted my parents and teachers to be happy with me. When I discovered that a lie could let me do all the things at the top of my priority list while keeping the adults happy, I found it easy to mentally justify a small untruth. Kids that age have often moved past the black and white morality age where lying is unthinkable (though little kids say untruth, I think they usually believe what they are saying when they say it) but haven't yet developed the strong moral compass that says "Of course I could lie now, but even if it causes trouble, I don't want to be a person who lies."

In this situation, I think I would separate the issues. Like others have suggested, remove the temptation for lying about schoolwork . Simultaneously help him learn to love and value honesty, not so much by punishing dishonesty but by praising honesty. Notice when he 'fesses up to wrongdoing and praise that (even if there are still consequences for what he did). Watch movies and read book together where people are honest even when it hurts. You don't always need to discuss and point out the moral, just let him admire the good and let it sink into his imagination. If you do writing prompts, have him write a story, based on history or imagination, of someone who was honest when it was hard.

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Stuff like practicing the piano doesn't seem very check-able to me.

 

How big is her house that she can't hear if the piano is being played while he practices? When the neighbor kids practice, I can hear them all the way down the block! The obvious thing to do, it seems, is to have him practice while she cooks dinner rather than while she runs to the grocery store.

 

it sounded so bizarre to me that a 9/10 yr old kid can not be trusted with a short list of tasks to do on his own.

 

Clearly, this kid can't. And I wouldn't expect any child - that age or older - to be trusted with a short list of tasks that are done on the honor system, especially if the benefits of those tasks are years in the future.

 

The second thing that struck me really odd is that lying is "developmentally appropriate" at that age.

 

It is something we expect to see in adolescents and pre-adolescents. It doesn't mean they are bad people, or fundamentally dishonest, it means they've worked out that an easy solution to tough situations is to lie and hope it doesn't get found out. (Meanwhile, in that age group they can be really furious if you lie to them! Note all the rules-lawyering about what sort of lies count - crossed fingers? Doesn't count! Technically true from a certain point of view? "Well, I did sorta practice three months ago so - doesn't count!" Carefully not mentioning crucial details? "I would've told her about the broken vase if she knew about the broken vase and asked what happened!" - doesn't count!) All this lying doesn't really make them happy, but it is something normal for young humans to do.

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Incidentally, I know I read a study somewhere - don't ask me exactly where! - that suggested you'll get more honesty from your children if, instead of emphasizing how much dishonesty makes you unhappy, you emphasize how pleased you'll be if your kids are brave enough to tell the truth. This means you have to back off the heavy-duty punishments, though, because otherwise you're tacitly lying and kids understand that.

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Further results suggest that the reason for the difference in honesty-promoting effectiveness between the “George Washington†story and the other stories was that the former emphasizes the positive consequences of honesty, whereas the latter focus on the negative consequences of dishonesty. When the “George Washington†story was altered to focus on the negative consequences of dishonesty, it too failed to promote honesty in children

 

 

Study

 

 

ETA-- I think this was kind of a dumb study, from conception to analysis (and I don't see anything else confirming the outcomes, anyway.), but it makes intuitive sense that people are disinclined to throw themselves on their sword over something stupid like a peeking in a game....and that if you take the "sword" out of he equation they'll be like "yeah, I did that."

Edited by OKBud
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Well I guess I'm confused as to why you don't check rather than ask.  I think he is too young to have that kind of independence. 

I don't know why I am having such a hard time communicating in this thread.   So I will try to explain again.

 

I asked for several reasons:  

Number 1, it was possible that he had innocently forgotten to do a few things on his list.  That could have explained how he was able to get everything done in such a short period of time.    And that is why I started rattling off the things on his list to make sure he remembered doing them all.  

Number 2, I asked because it was possible that he had done the things on the list, but he just rushed through them.   That was a very plausible explanation.    

Number 3, I asked, because many things on his list are things that I can't easily check.  (Example:  teeth brushing, practicing piano.)    Of course, in hindsight, AFTER I initially asked him, I remembered that I could go online and see if he had logged into xtra math, and that is how I ultimately caught him in a lie.   But in the moment, that "check" didn't occur to me until afterward, so that is why I asked him straight out.  

 

Now to your point about "too much independence".   I've answered that several times as well.  Perhaps I am still not being clear.  

So I will state again....He has VERY minimal independence.    I repeat....Minimal.     I am not expecting him to homeschool himself or be self-sufficient.    I teach him all of his subjects.   At 10 years of age, I ask him to do a FEW small things independently:  some basic self-care chores and a few small school things which I assign specifically to teach him to work independently.   I am not asking him to do anything new that he has not been able to do in the past.   

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Yes, but the point I'm trying to make is maybe someone that young should not be left to their own devices with their school work.  Maybe she needs to be in the room while he is doing it. 

 

The lying to me is a separate issue.  Of course the lying thing is not good.  But to me it's setting up a kid to fail.  Would he necessarily know to say, "I didn't do the work mom because it's tough for me to be that responsible for these things on my own."?  Nope.  But to me that's the problem. 

Every kid is different.   There probably are some out there who can handle that no problem, but neither of mine could.  I've been doing this for 10 years so I'm not speaking out my blow hole.  My younger kid is 11 (so 6th grade) and he still wouldn't handle that kind of alone time so well either. 

 

 And I wouldn't expect any child - that age or older - to be trusted with a short list of tasks that are done on the honor system, especially if the benefits of those tasks are years in the future.

 

 

I guess my question is why are you expecting one so young to have so much independence over their work? It sounds like you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.  Most 4th graders would find a way to escape a list of chores and school work if given the chance, which you gave him.  Clearly he needed to be monitored more than you have been doing.  And why ask the question if you already know the answer? If you know that he didn't do it than call him on it rather than presenting him with the chance to lie.  Even kids who know they will face more trouble for lying do so when presented with the type of question you did.  Ultimately he needs more supervision. My youngest is also 9, I could not imagine expecting her to go through a list without me keeping on eye on her and then asking her if she did it all after knowing full well she hadn't. 

 

 

I really appreciate all of you taking the time to reply.  

 

I think what I hear some of you saying is that you personally wouldn't expect a 10-year-old to be able to brush their hair and teeth independently without being in the room.    Or to log in to xtra math on an ipad for 10 minutes.   You feel that kind of "alone time" is unrealistic to expect from a 10 year old.  

 

Furthermore, if I do expect that type of "alone time", I should be able to "check" this somehow before I ever talk to him.   For example, instead of asking him if he remembered to brush his teeth, perhaps I could start measuring the weight of the toothpaste tube, or checking to see if his toothbrush is wet, etc.

 

Edited by TheAttachedMama
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At 10 years of age, I ask him to do a FEW small things independently: some basic self-care chores and a few small school things which I assign specifically to teach him to work independently. I am not asking him to do anything new that he has not been able to do in the past.

10 was a transition stage for my DS11. He wanted more independence at the same time as he seems to live in a preteen fog. So it is like he said he packed his backpack for his outside class but his textbook is still at his desk. My DS12 has always march to his own drum so I can't compare him to age norms.

There is lots of spurts and backslides throughout for my DS11 since he was a toddler. It wasn't a straight gradual path.

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