Lying: The Developmental Truth

I stared at the toast lying on top of the trash in disbelief. I was ticked. My four year old told me he had eaten all of his toast and wanted something else to eat. I went into the dining room where he was eating his peaches.

“I thought you told me you ate all your toast?”
“I did.”
“No, you threw it in the trash.”
“No, I didn’t. I ate it all.”

I took him by the hand and led him to the trash. “Look, there’s your toast.” He looked at me like he really didn’t know how it had gotten there.

This wasn’t the first time I’d caught him in a lie and I was frustrated. I couldn’t understand it. I don’t punish my children. I don’t reward them either. What do they have to fear by telling me the truth? My 7 year old had never lied to me. I really believe he’s physically incapable of it. It would alter his universe of science and order too much. But my 4 year old was born with his own personality and had no qualms about chaos. I felt connected to my youngest child. Our relationship was good. From all of my research and involvement with AP, I naively believed that if my parenting was focused on relationship, things like this wouldn’t happen. So why was he lying to me?
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The Advocate

I’ve been trying to impress upon my college students that details make all the difference. It’s the finest details that I couldn’t see that day: the tears on my 7-year-old son’s face. I had forgotten to wear my glasses.  I have pretty good vision, but the lines blur at distances.   I could see his brown sweatpants among all the black running in circles on the soccer field, but I couldn’t see his face.  My husband and I had signed him up for indoor soccer at his request.  He tells us he likes it and wants to keep playing even though he spends very little time actually playing.  He starts out engaged; however, by the last quarter, he spins, crawls, dances around the field and occasionally accidentally kicks the ball.  I’m not sure how much he’s getting out of it, but as long as he continues to enjoy it, we’ll support him playing.

Last week, he rotated out of the game as usual. The children who were waiting their turn to play stood behind a white wall masking all but the tallest players. A few minutes later, the door swung open and my little guy stepped back onto the field and walked slowly to his position. He didn’t move. All I could see was him standing there wiping his arm across the middle of his face.  I couldn’t see his face, just his arm pushing on where I knew his glasses were. The entire field of players ran past him, but he just kept standing there. They swept past him again, he stood still, forearm across his nose. I looked at my husband, “What’s he doing?” He replied, “I don’t know, but I’m going down.” Parents aren’t usually allowed down in the player area, so I watched my husband from the stands on the second level above the field. I strained to see my son’s face. My husband talked with the coach then called my son back to the sidelines. A new player was released.
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