I’m going to get personal with this one.
I am an introvert and I get tired easily if I’m around a lot of people. I also get freaked out when I’m in a situation where someone is cornering me, like asking me a direct question for which I do not have a well thought out answer. I need time. I’m not good on the spot. I have always had a hard time asking anyone for anything; I don’t want to be a bother. I do not want to be in the spotlight or be thrown into hectic situations where I have no control or escape. If someone feels something negative toward me, I can’t wait to get it sorted out…I just don’t have complete peace until I’ve done all I can. Certain places and things bother me that don’t bother other people.
Well, all of this was true of me as a little girl and teenager, too, of course.
My parents are very kind and reasonable people, and they did several things to take my personality into consideration! But nobody, not even I, knew the toll some circumstances were taking on me. Here’s one thing that my mom probably never knew about. When she asked me a leading question, I was afraid of disappointing her and my brain couldn’t react quickly enough to say what was true. As I said, I wasn’t good on the spot, and often feel intimidated. However, not connecting my personality with my experiences, I would live in guilt for “lying”.
This little tidbit of my life, both my innate characteristics and this detail about lying, is meant to kill two birds with one stone.
One, we need to get to know our kids and make room for their needs. We need to realize how they may be feeling about their lives, their schedules, and themselves because being ignored or unaccepted will either lead to difficulty on the outside or the inside, and I don’t know which is worse.
Two, we need to understand what may be going on behind the scenes when a kid is lying.
Here are a couple of thoughts that may be helpful for families with sensitive kids, or kids who have a tendency to lie.
We must understand that the need to be acceptable to parents is so incredibly strong that some kids will say anything to get that need met. Especially in kids from hard places, because they have built-in-doubt that they are truly wanted, but this could apply to kids (and adults!) in general.
We need to examine how volatile and hostile our reactions and questions are when our kids aren’t behaving in the way we expect. This is why we have to create an environment where we slow down and listen better, and build their belief that they are accepted no matter what.
There are consequences for lying and behaviors like it (deliberate choices to do something harmful), but if we only give consequences and not address the root behind the behavior, with many children we won’t get very far. Our goal is to train them to handle their feelings and fears in a respectful, healthy, authentic way, and that means we have to listen, get creative, see the need/desire underneath their choices, be compassionate, teach & train them with alternative behaviors, and practice, practice, practice!