Trap 11: Child, dishonest

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This continues a new series of posts excerpted from Monkeytraps in Everyday Life: A Guide for Control Addicts (in press).  It’s about psychological monkeytraps: what they are, how they work, and how recovering control addicts can learn to notice when they’ve trapped themselves by trying to control what cannot or should not be controlled. Read the introduction to the series here.

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Trap 11: Child, dishonest

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Step 1: I experience discomfort.

I am frustrated and angry that my child habitually lies to me.

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Step 2: I misread the discomfort.

“I must discourage this behavior that I dislike.”

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Step 3: I try to control the discomfort.

I punish my child for lying.

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Step 4: My attempt fails.

Now afraid of me and my reactions, my child’s lying increases.

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Step 5: I misread the failure.

“I must try harder to discourage this behavior.”

Step 6: I experience discomfort.

I am frustrated and angry that my child habitually lies to me.

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Footnote:

Kids and lying

~ Parents should keep in mind that telling lies is a natural part of child development and that in most cases, children outgrow this behavior.

~ Parents should consider a child’s age, the circumstances and reasons for the lie, and how frequently he engages in this behavior.

 ~ Some common causes of lying in school-age children include:

  • Wishful imaginative play

  • Fear of punishment

  • A desire to brag to friends/classmates to boost status and impress them

  • To avoid something they don’t want to do (such as clean up toys)

  • A desire to not disappoint parents when expectations are too high

  • Unhappiness with something in their lives

  • An attempt to get attention

~ Do not make kids feel like they cannot come to you. If a child is worried that you will be angry, he may try to avoid telling you the truth at all costs. The important thing is to help your child feel secure, safe, and supported so that he knows he can talk to you without losing your affection and love. In fact, research shows that when you threaten kids with punishment for lying, they are less likely to tell the truth.

~ Katherine Lee, What to do when kids lie at the VeryWellFamily blog

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Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop
is available here.

Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop by [Steve Hauptman]


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