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(11 Posts)
bamzooki Sun 16-Sep-07 17:19:38

DS is 4.5 yrs.
A few days ago i found him eating our toothpaste out of the tube. I explained why it is not good for him and that he must not do that again, and he promised he wouldn't. At about the same time I was realising that his pretty new tube of toothpaste was also about gone so it wasn't the first time.

Today he appeared downstairs with toothpaste round his mouth. I asked if he had eated some more toothpaste. Cue wide-eyed innocence 'No Mummy'. I pointed out the evidence round his mouth and asked again, and got the same reply.

So - I told him that I was upset about both the broken promise regarding toothpaste and that he had lied to me when I asked about it, and removed his favourite toy for the rest of today.

My question is - am I expecting too much of him at his age to understand the concept of honesty? Should I be doing anything else about it?

TBH - I am a bit concerned that he has such a well defined 'lie' reflex at this age - he has done it before - tho admittedly it's usually about stuff he knows he shouldn't have done. But it's not like I lock him in a cupboard as punishment or anything!

<feeling like a crap parent again emoticon>

lindenlass Sun 16-Sep-07 17:34:31

As I understand it, lying is quite an important developmental step, although not one to be encouraged obviously! I wouldn't punish lying (but then I don't do punishment anyway!) but I would just say that I don't like being lied to and it's not an acceptable thing to do and explain why. On the other hand, children know that lying is ok as they know adults do it all the time (white lies) and it's so difficult for them to work out what's ok and what's not so you'd want to be aware of that too. I'd find out why they were doing the thing I didn't want them to do and try to make it so they don't need to do it ie. maybe he likes the mint taste and would stop doing it if you bought him mints or chewing gum hmm or mint tea or something else minty. If they have no need to do things we don't like them doing, then there's no need for them to lie.

bamzooki Sun 16-Sep-07 18:45:41

Lindenlass - thanks for your response. But this is not an isolated incident, and I have previously, on many occasions explained that lying is not acceptable. Initially like you suggested, there was no form of 'punishment' because at that point it was a new concept for him, but surely there have to be consequences for continuing to do something he knows is wrong.
He is very bright and quick to exploit any loophole/weakness/inconsistency on my part. And I feel that at his age, especially now he is at school, that he should be able to respond truthfully to a specific, calmly asked question.

But maybe I am expecting too much?

Othersideofthechannel Sun 16-Sep-07 19:14:42

I'm not sure they can do this when in the wrong at this age. My DS is a month older than yours and goes into denial like this when it is blatantly obvious that he is guilty. It is a fairly recent thing and I am sure just part of the learning process.

Also, I have never asked him to promise he won't do things again but he always says 'I'll never do it again Mummy'.

It's hard to get the balance right between encouraging them to tell the truth and discouraging them from doing something undesired.

Hathor Sun 16-Sep-07 19:20:17

I would be more worried if he could not lie. Surely lying is an important life-skill?

bamzooki Sun 16-Sep-07 19:32:03

OK so maybe I am expecting too much - in terms of the 'not breaking promises' and also understanding that lying is wrong.

I've been thinking about why I feel like I do about the lying, and I think it is that I would like, when he is older to be able to come to me if he has problems (of his own making) and know that telling me the truth is a better option than lying.

But I should probably chill about it for now I guess.

Btw - the toothpaste is now well out of reach! grin

bamzooki Sun 16-Sep-07 19:34:05

Not sure I agree entirely with lying being a life-skill Hathor.
Can you explain what you mean a bit more?

Othersideofthechannel Sun 16-Sep-07 19:37:25

Yes, I was going to say put the toothpaste out of reach.

I am sure that if you lead by example and don't punish him when he owns up to doing something wrong, he will pick it up.

gemmiegoatlegs Sun 16-Sep-07 19:39:15

i have a ds same age as yours bamzooki and am seeing a bit of the same.

i also believe it is an important developmental step - it actually shows he has been considering how someone else (you) feel about a certain behaviour (eating toothpaste) and has reached a conclusion about the behaviour (wrong). he wants to please you and therefore doesn't tell you the truth as he has not yet learned which you value the most, honesty or "good" behaviour.

Othersideofthechannel Sun 16-Sep-07 19:51:26

You put it so beautifully.

bamzooki Sun 16-Sep-07 19:56:49

Hadn't looked at it like that gemmie, thanks. That makes sense.
Otherside - I am very careful not to react negatively when he owns up - pointless to expect the truth in those circumstances otherwise.

Thank you all for your replies - I just needed some other perspective on this. It's just so hard to get the balance right sometimes isn't it?


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