Children Lie

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Categories Discipline, Financial Literacy, Guilt, Mommy Issues, Older Children, Parenting, Special Needs, Talking to Kids, Theme WeekTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments

I’ve gone back and forth on whether to blog about this incident. It’s embarrassing to one of my daughters, but not atypical for children their age. Seven-year-olds lie and even steal. It’s developmentally appropriate, but not socially or morally acceptable. Maybe our story will help another parent know that she’s not alone in tackling these issues. Here’s what happened.

For their 7th birthday, I got each of my daughters a gift card to a local bookstore. I like to use gift cards to teach my girls financial decision-making. The finite balance on the gift card teaches them that paying with plastic should be treated as responsibly as paying with cash. When they run out, they’re out. It encourages budgeting and exercises their basic arithmetic while they’re shopping. They have to factor in sales tax. Whenever possible, I try to set up situations where my daughters spend their gift cards over multiple shopping trips. I figure it helps them understand the idea of debit and the longterm record-keeping required to track their gift card balance is a good exercise.

The gift cards I gave J and M were identical. Although I suggested that we simply write their names on each one, the girls elected to distinguish them differently. One of them decided that she would remove the hangtag from her card while the other left hers intact.

Nearly two months after our initial shopping venture, the girls asked to go to the bookstore this weekend. I asked them to grab their gift cards and buckle up in the car. I gathered up my things while they packed up theirs. The one who’d left her hangtag on let us know that she’d found her gift card, but removed the tag so that the card would fit in the wallet. The other child was upset, feeling that Sissy had gone back on an agreement. It didn’t help that she couldn’t find her gift card.

I happened to know where the second gift card was. Someone had just left her card lying on the floor of the living room last time we went to the bookstore. Despite two reminders, it was never put away, so I picked it up and set it aside.

I retrieved the gift card and discovered that it was the one with the hangtag still attached. My daughter had claimed her sister’s gift card and concocted a lie to cover it up. I showed her the gift card and she instantly knew she was caught. Sister didn’t even realize what she was witnessing. I explained it to her, and she was understandably appalled. Her sister had essentially stolen from her and then lied to cover it up.

The offending party volunteered that the appropriate consequence for her actions was my permanently confiscating her gift card. I didn’t want to do that, but I did tell her that she would not be spending her card on this trip. Sister not only forgave her, but bought the offender a book with her own card.

The next day, I took a moment alone to talk to my daughter about why she’d made the series of choices she had. She didn’t want to talk about it because she felt bad. I reminded her that she had made some pretty bad choices, and one of the consequences of those choices was feeling guilty. She was going to have to talk about it and she was going to have to feel bad. Once she finally agreed to discuss the whole situation, she explained to me that she knew that she’d done wrong by not putting her gift card away. All the wrong actions that followed were to cover up that mistake.

I told her clearly that lying and stealing were far worse than the original offense, and those were the choices I was truly disappointed in. Dishonesty and theft would not be tolerated. Mistakes happen and can be fixed, but lying was unacceptable.

I live what I preach. I admit my mistakes to my children. The only lie I’m guilty of is eating chocolate at work so that my girls don’t know the quantity of sugar I consume. I’m working on fixing that one. I even struggle with the mythology of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Those feel like lies, even if our entire community is complicit.

This is another one of those ways in which parenting gets harder. You leave behind the sleepless nights and the diapers and potty training, only to have to help your children navigate morality and peer pressure.

What would you have done in my shoes? How do you tackle lapses in honesty?

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The Fox and The Goat and The Cabbage…

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Categories ToddlersTags , 15 Comments

You know that riddle about the fox and the goat and the cabbage.  The one where you have to figure out how to get them all across the river in the boat.  Well, that’s what it seems like when I try to get everyone in the car.  Just last weekend we put the girls new car seats in the car.  They haven’t really outgrown their infant carriers, but at 17 lbs each they are getting to heavy to carry. I haven’t yet taken all three of them out on my own, but from my previous experience loading them in the stroller or the car with their infant carriers, I can imagine it is going to take a few trips:

  1. I’ll have to dress them both in their outdoor clothes and put one in the living room, which is gated. I can’t really carry them both at once, and they aren’t walking yet, so it means doing it one at a time.
  2. I’ll carry the first girl out and get her buckled in.
  3. I’ll have to come back and get the second girl who will hopefully be waiting patiently…(I left one in her snowsuit in the living room last week and she managed to pull her self up on the table and start to push buttons on the phone in the time it took to buckle her sister in to the stroller).
  4. I’ll carry the second girl out the car and get her buckled in. Fortunately they are close enough in size that it doesn’t matter who goes in which seat.
  5. At some point I’ll have to herd out their 3.5-year-old brother who will hopefully have gotten himself dressed.
  6. I’ll also have to get the diaper bag, my purse, and my son’s backpack (if we’re going to playschool or the library) from the house.
  7. I might need to load one of the strollers from the garage.

But the funny thing is, while this seems like an almost overwhelming task right now, like everything else we’ve had to figure out in the last 15 months it will soon be part of our routine.  In a few months we’ll be facing a new challenge (probably getting two little girls who want to walk by themselves in the car) and we’ll look back at this and realize it wasn’t all that difficult after all.  That seems to be how it is with twins. You figure out what you need to do, and you just do it.  There’s no point in my worrying about all the details because it will all work out.

How do you manage getting two or more children out of the house?  Any suggestions for making it go more smoothly?

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