Sometimes I have to step back and remind myself that I was a kid once. Growing up can be difficult on all of us. However, it feels like, when we are adults, we forget how difficult it was to be a kid. For instance, I can vividly remember being upset with my mom for giving me an answer like, “because I said so.” It wasn’t until recently that I realized that answer comes from complete and total frustration. While children can provide us with such joy and love, they can also cause us great anxiety.
Recently, we learned that Jackson has been struggling in school again with his behavior. While I had hoped that things had improved over last year, the school decided to once again put him in the Check-In/Check-Out program. This is a program that he was part of last year where he meets with a coach in the morning. They encourage him to have a good day and make good choices. He has tracking sheet that he takes with him to each class that day, and he is evaluated on his behavior, using this sheet. At the end of the day, he goes over the sheet with the coach and bring the form home for us to review and sign.
When we got the letter about going back into the program, I was very reluctant. Last year everything was going well with the program and then the PBIS team decided to graduate Jackson. This meant that he was done and he should be proud as if this program has been a punishment. After going round and round with the social worker about keeping him in the program, I believe Jackson took matters into his own hands as he never had a day with high scores again for the rest of the school year.
After speaking with Jackson’s current home room teacher about the CICO program, I felt better about the approach the school would take with the program this time around. So after a few weeks of trying it again, it has become a good conversation piece for discussing what happened at school. At times, I can’t help but feel very disconnected from the kids when they are at school so I appreciate having something that relays more about his day.
Over the last few years, Jackson has had several instances of telling big variations of the trust. I’ve blogged about many of the elaborate stories he has told us. While funny to read now, the frustration that fills my body at the time is enough to make me want to lock myself in the bathroom and have “Calgon, take me away!” Yesterday was one of those days. Jackson came home from school and announced to me that he got all 2’s on his CICO sheet. “That’s awesome,” I said, somewhat relieved yet surprised that he had a great day on a Monday following a full weekend. At any rate, when he handed me the sheet, something was off.
Why would the teacher cross out those lower marks with a big black marker even re-writing her initials? So I asked, “Why is this marker on here?” “The teacher wanted to change my marks so I gave her my marker to do it.” Hmmmmm, this just didn’t seem right to me. So I said, “Jackson, perhaps I should email your teacher and ask her about this because this just looks strange to me like you or one of your friends changed this.” “Go ahead, she will just tell you that the lunch teacher did it,” Jackson said. So I sent an email.
Even when Dad got home from work, he asked Jackson about it, “I did not change the form, the teacher did it.” OK, fine. We’ll find out tomorrow from the teacher.
Later that night the teacher emailed me back (I included a picture of the above form in my email to her) and she agreed that it did not look right and she would find out what happened as she was out in the afternoon. She called me this afternoon and shared with me that Jackson admitted to her that he changed the form because he didn’t agree with the lower marks he got.
Kids will be kids, I know that. I remember telling my Dad that I did not take the change off of his nightstand, when I actually did. I recall the fear and excitement with feeling like I got away with something. So I get it, really I do.
However, I am bothered that Jackson never told us the truth about changing the form even after we asked him several times and pointed out that we were contacting his teacher. Reflecting on my conversation with him, I don’t think I invited him to lie about this form. I do recognize that Jackson is very much a pleaser and I know he wants Dad and I to be proud of him. Clearly we need to figure out another way to get that point across to him and help him feel comfortable with telling us what happened, even when he makes a mistake. How do other parents deal with combating lying in your house?
Dad found a resource online that suggest the following:
- Stop asking set-up questions that invite lying. A set-up question is one to which you already know the answer. “Did you clean your room?” Instead say, “I notice you didn’t clean your room. Would you like to work on a plan for cleaning it?”
- Focus on solutions to problems instead of blame. “What should we do about getting the chores done?” instead of, “Did you do your chores?”
- Be honest yourself. Say, “That doesn’t sound like the truth to me. Most of us don’t tell the truth when we are feeling trapped, scared, or threatened in some way. Why don’t we take some time off from this right now? Later I’ll be available if you would like to share with me what is going on for you.”
Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems
- Help children believe that mistakes are opportunities to learn so they won’t believe they are bad and need to cover up their mistakes.
- Set an example in telling the truth. Share with your children times when it was difficult for you to tell the truth, but you decided it was more important to experience the consequences and keep your self-respect. Be sure this is honest sharing instead of a lecture.
- Let children know they are unconditionally loved. Many children lie because they are afraid the truth will disappoint their parents. Show appreciation. “Thank you for telling the truth. I know that was difficult. I admire the way you are willing to face the consequences, and I know you can handle them and learn from them.”
- See more at: http://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/lying.html
Good ideas above. Some that we have tried and some that we should employ immediately. Just when I think things are starting to get easier, something like this happens and I begin to question everything we’ve been doing up to this point. While I know we have done the best we can, and tried many different approaches, I still can’t help but feel this parenting thing just gets harder and harder! Perhaps a lot of this is just growing pains for Jackson. Rather, maybe the question is for who. For him or for us?
I love both of our boys so much. I can’t imagine a day without them. We will do as we have been doing and keep moving forward with trying different techniques. If any other parents have kids in similar situations and want to share some gained insight, we’d love to hear from you!