I spoke to you in Herriman about my 8yr. old daughter. She doesn't tell me things or talk to me or anyone for that fact (other than day to day stuff). I told you she wouldn't even tell me what she wanted for Christmas, etc.. Anyway, you suggested that I have 5 mins. a day with her just asking/ answering questions. I want you to know that has helped and I have noticed she is excited to have that time. What is bothering me though is that today I discovered she had burned her arm and never told me. I noticed it as she was sitting next to me. I gently put my arm around her and told her if she hurts herself, she needs to tell me so I can take care of it. I then took her and put some medicine on it. I asked her how she had done it and she said she didn't know (this is a typical response from her).
Also, she is always trying to get her 7yr. old sister to do things which she knows are not right. For example, my 7yr. old told me the other day that her sister told her to take a toy ring from a house we were visiting. I know that she does these things because I myself have heard her in the past. How do you handle dishonesty and trust issues? I love her dearly and am deeply concerned by her behaviors.
From, A Happy Mommy
I had a few foster daughters that didn't know how to communicate honestly. There is usually a reason why people choose this behavior. You will probably want to question why she doesn't feel that it is safe to speak the truth. Some people are just private by nature, or really introverted, and some people have been punished instead of praised when they have told the truth in the past, and so don't see a difference between the two things. If she isn't just an introvert, she might have thought that she would get signs of frustration or a lecture about safety if she reported the burning incident. Maybe she made a bad choice which caused the burn and doesn't want to report that.
Many people feel like they are in control of their world when they are dishonest. If they can control what people understand, they feel empowered. Maybe in the past her dishonesty was rewarded or is still. Maybe people don't teach to her dishonesty every time it happens. Thinking that they are giving her the benefit of doubt, they are actually showing her that dishonesty works more often than it doesn't. Many people are willing to take that risk. Trust me, I was one of those people in my youth and I often came out on top when I would skip a chore, or tell a fib to my family or friends. Most people just automatically trust. If this is the case, it is good you are catching it now. People who never get caught in their lies have terrible relationships later in life and can't learn to govern themselves. Self government requires honesty. Lucky for me a friend caught me in a lie and it made a huge impact! So big that I decided to change all on my own without any help from parents etc. It still took me years to be honest enough to admit that I had had a problem with lying though. The devil's biggest tool is lies. There is power that comes with lying. It is addictive. No one can really understand unless they have broken free from that power. And even after that break it is hard to give up the old power that you remember having by admitting past lies. Sounds strange, but trust me on this one.
It sounds like she has a pretty severe honesty issue. Since that is the case, make sure that teaching honesty is a higher priority than teaching other behaviors. I haven't observed her, but I would bet that everything she does or doesn't do is a form of dishonesty. Saying, "I don't know" is dishonest. I don't tolerate that in my home. If a question is asked during a calm parent child conversation (not out of frustration) the youth's answer should never be I don't know, unless it is said in all honesty. If children ever conveniently forget anything, they are being dishonest. To teach honesty, your tolerances must be LOW on this. Do not tolerate it. That doesn't mean that you have to get angry, it means that you have to really look at all behaviors with 'honesty goggles' on and then teach to them.
You might be asking how do you teach honesty?
First, you should have a counseling session with your daughter. Invite her to stay up late one evening and open some ice cream for the two of you to share. Tell her that you want to have a great talk with her but there is a rule you have for the talk; if you ask a question to her, or if she asks a question to you, you both have to tell whatever you think and you can't say, "I don't know". Shake on the agreement. Pray with her for the spirit in your conversation. Tell her that you know that when she said... that is was a lie, and when she did... that it was a lie, and when she didn't... it was dishonest, etc. Expose everything you know in the kindest voice possible. Tell her that you haven't said things in the past because you hoped she would choose to be honest all on her own, but that you knew. Tell her any story you might feel appropriate about when you might have been dishonest as a child, if you don't think it will give her new ideas. Tell her the psychology of lying like I explained earlier; about the feelings associated with lying. Make all of this really brief and loving. No lectures! Then simply ask, "Do you want to stop lying?" Let her talk a lot and have a natural conversation about it. Encourage her to ask you questions that she wants answers to as well. Tell her what your plan is to help her with her honesty issues. Agree upon it together. Pray for help with the plan.
Second/My Honesty Teaching Plan
Set up a negative consequence for dishonesty. Ours is 30 minutes of honest work. I check it off to make sure it was done honestly. You will need to decide what would be most motivating for your daughter. *Note: Sometimes you really won't be able to tell if she was dishonest or not. I don't like giving negative consequences when someone wasn't really dishonest, because this can encourage lying. BUT, if you don't catch everything, you could also be reinforcing a lie. This could be worse. She needs to know that if you feel she isn't being truthful or doing something dishonest, even if you can't prove it, she will earn a negative consequence. She is addicted to dishonest behaviors, so you have to assume the worst until you have seen her be able to control her impulse to choose dishonesty. Explain this to her. Also, don't ever show excitement about telling her she earned a negative consequence. Make sure you always show her you are disappointed, but you know she will get it soon.**
Choose a positive consequence for being honest! What motivates her? Have an honesty tally sheet. If she communicates honestly, whether in a talking session or when questioned or in actions, she earns a mark and lots of praise. If she earns a lot of marks in the day then she earns a reward out of a snack bag etc. This is a great system. You have complete control over this. If you see she is really trying to communicate honestly that day and she doesn't have enough marks yet, then you can come to her and say that you want to do some honesty practice for marks. Ask her questions etc. and reward her for her honest statements. The idea is to focus more on having positive honesty interactions than negative dishonesty interactions. Positive motivates.
Do SODAS daily for a while. Oral and written. All the SODAS should be honesty ones. She should get a certain amount of marks for these. Then she will look forward to problem solving this behavior more.
Teach her the exact steps to Communicating Honestly, Controlling the Impulse to Steal and explain how Following Instructions is also honesty.
Communicating Honestly: Someone asks you a question
Stop and think about what the honest answer to the question is.
Mentally tell yourself to say the honest statement.
Report your honest statement to your parent for praise.
Controlling the Impulse to Steal: You feel you want something
Recognize that you are wanting to take something.
Stop looking at the object and walk away from it.
Tell yourself that you have power because you walked away.
Report to your parent about how you resisted the temptation to steal, and get praise.
Role Play both of these behaviors as well as Following Instructions with your child. Having a time each day that you report on her honesty progress is also a good idea. It allows time for praise as well as re-dedication.
Lastly, don't forget to pull her aside when you feel she is weak and kneel with her to pray. Pour your heart out to the Lord on her behalf. Let her understand who she has to answer to and who will give her strength in governing this behavior. You don't need to say these things as much as just show her through your humble prayers.
It is very normal with a behavior like dishonesty to conquer it and then fall back into it often. Don't feel like she forgot everything you did if she goes back to it. It is an addiction. It feels comfortable after a while and the draw can be great at times. Just regroup and get back to teaching to it again. Learning to govern your own behaviors is a 'bit by bit' type of process. We have to be patient and persistent.
To anyone who hasn't had problems with dishonesty yet. Just remember to keep your tolerances low and always keep the possibility in the back of our minds. It doesn't do our child good to be blind parents. Questioning behaviors in your mind is a good habit to get into so that you don't inadvertently feed a negative behavior.
God Bless You!