What to know about what you don’t know you know. #1: Intuition is very efficient—if you don't overthink it.
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I have a son who is 11, going on 12. We've had this problem for a while now, and it is incredibly frustrating. Our son lies to us, according to him, to avoid having to tell us unpleasant truths that he is worried that "might" get him into trouble. We have tried to explain that by lying he is guaranteeing that he will get in trouble for the lies, regardless of whatever else he's done. Unfortunately, that lesson seems difficult for him to understand. We've tried using a chart with stars for the days that he doesn't lie, we've tried using a jar where he gets a quarter for telling a hard truth, but gives a quarter when he tells a lie, and about a thousand other tactics to show him that lying is wrong, and it costs you dearly in the end.
The one message of hope for the other parents going through this.... it does pay off. Stay consistent, stay calm, and know that eventually the lessons do sink in (albeit slowly in some cases). Our son has been doing better and better the past few months. There are still rough days where he'll slide back to old habits, but those are getting farther and farther apart. I think that as he gets older, he's also realizing at school that if he lies, his friends stop believing him and stop wanting to be his friends.
Hopefully the combination of consistent consequences for lying at home at the social consequences of lying at school will be enough to bring this lesson home to him. Our job is doubly hard since our son has Asperger's Syndrome, which adds a whole new layer of complexity to an already complex issue.
Thank you for writing this column and letting us parents know that, frustrated as we may be, we are not alone.
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