Did you just LIE to me??

19 months old

It was dinner time and she was sluggishly finishing what clearly wasn’t her favorite meal. But I knew she could finish it because it was her usual portion size and she didn’t get any snacks before dinner. After dodging the spoon for a bit, she looks at me and says “pee pee”. Now, we’ve been telling her to tell us when she needs to pee, that she’s a big girl and won’t need to wear diapers anymore if she can tell us regularly. So of course we want to honor her communication! As I’m unbuckling her from the highchair she’s got a sneaky grin on her face. I have a suspicion she might be playing me…but benefit of the doubt right? As soon as her bum lands on the toilet seat, she arches and says “all done!” I say, “No, you told Mommy you need to pee so you have to sit and pee.” But she screams and says “All done! all done!” I don’t want her to be traumatized by the toilet so I relent but WAS THAT NOT A LIE??

It was a fight to get her back into her highchair but I was determined…you don’t lie and then get what you want afterwards by not finishing your meal!! We employed the same tactic as when she’s defiant by turning her chair towards a blank wall. She finished her dinner.

This is problematic…if lying starts now, what is it going to be like in a few years? Or when she’s a teen? *shudder* Little lies now can grow into big ones like forgery or fraud. It’s severe and needs to be clamped down on in my mind. But what is an appropriate consequence of lying for this age?

Well the next time she lied about needing to pee or poo, I immediately stuck her in the bathtub, pants around the ankles and said, “You lied to Mommy about needing to pee and that is wrong. This is your punishment.” And then I turned my back on her. I let her cry for one minute, turned back to her and knelt at eye level. “When you say you need to pee, you have to tell the truth. Lying is wrong. Can you say ‘Sorry Mommy’?” She stops crying and dips her head towards mine; I touch my head to hers as I accept her apology. I tell her, “Next time only say you have to pee if you really have to pee. If you understand say ‘Yes Mommy’.” And she said “yes.” Okay then.

Well, next time she lied to Daddy. I prepped him ahead of time so he repeated the bathtub scenario and this time she tried to climb out. But she was quick to apologize and dry her tears and quickly go back to her chair to finish dinner. And we haven’t had to do that since…so hopefully lesson learned?

What have you done when your child lies to you?

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3 thoughts on “Did you just LIE to me??

  1. Hi Reigh!

    It sounds like NessNess is really growing up into a lovely and bright little girl! The fact that she already knows how to apologize (and even initiate an apology) is a testament to her maturity– she is definitely light years ahead of my little guy =)

    I wouldn’t worry about lying at age 19 months becoming her default mode of being a few years from now. Cognitively speaking, toddlers her age do not yet possess the mental faculties to grasp right from wrong, or even fantasy from reality. At this developmental age, toddlers mostly operate out of instinct, impulse, and personal desires (which, while annoying, also has huge survival implications).To intentionally deceive someone you have to actually think about what is reality and make that conscious decision to mislead. I’m wondering if her thoughts were more along the lines of consequential thinking (eg.”I want out” and saying “pee pee” gets me out of the chair) rather than a moral decision to lie.

    You can try to stop lying in its tracks through behavioral conditioning (positive/negative consequences), but I also want to propose the idea that learning to lie is an appropriate stage of growth for toddlers. Not that honesty shouldn’t be encouraged or that lying should be nurtured at this age, but recognizing this is also an important exploratory stage for her and there can be benefit in providing room for growth and failure. If NessNess is required to be 100% truthful about everything, how will she learn to graciously accept a gift she doesn’t like from uncle or grandma?

    • Hi Jella! Good thoughts to ponder, esp the exploration bit. One thing though is that I know she knows how to ask to come down (she asks to be unbuckled and then says “lok lok” for “down”) but she didn’t ask it and said pee pee instead. With a mischievous smile on her face. So I totally feel like she knew she was using something else to get a result she wanted because asking to come down would be met with a “no”.

      As for accepting unwanted gifts… “thank you! This is a unique gift! You shouldn’t have!” All truths. Haha.

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