“Maybe She Was Just Practicing”

January 11, 2011 · 1 comment

in Daily Life, Development

We were all at the dinner table the other night, when the conversation turned to the subject of “truth telling.” S. who is now 5 years old, has been known to experiment with stretching the truth a bit at times in recent months, which prompted her Dad to tell her the story of “The Little Shepherd Girl Who Cried Wolf.” Now, her Dad asked her if she remembered the story, and if she could tell us what happened. S. said “Well, the little shepherd girl kept calling “Wolf” when there wasn’t really a wolf, and then when there really was a wolf, and she called for help, no-one believed her, and no-one came to help, and that was big trouble for the sheep.” S. was quiet for a moment, and her Dad asked what she thought the story meant. Without missing a beat, S. replied, “Well, I think maybe the shepherd girl was just practicing.” I love this child, and the way she thinks!

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IncidentalDomestic May 12, 2011

I once talked to a friend (actually a friend of my younger sister, 10 years my junior — she was not sure what to do because her 5-year-old was lying consistently, and she found herself torn between marveling at the creativity of her daughter coming up with very creative ways to explain away behavior (not wanting to stifle that creativity) and wanting her daughter to tell the truth.

I was … gosh. Dumbfounded? It was hard for me to understand how someone could get to that point of justification and denial to even consider that allowing lying in a 5-year-old — who is plenty old enough to understand that lying is wrong — was an acceptable thing. I told her she would absolutely NOT be stifling the creativity of her daughter and if she did not encourage her to tell the truth now, this would be a much larger struggle for her AND daughter later.

When I read this post, it reminded me of how I felt when this young mother, who obviously LOVED her daughter and wanted what was best for her, did not know how to separate that love and admiration from her responsibility to build a solid foundation for her daughter’s future happiness. Not knowing anything about this child’s situation, I’d just say that this would be a big red flag for me as a mother, if we were talking about my daughter.

I do actually have a 5-year-old with a tendency to lie; we have really worked on this for the past couple of years with slow, but encouraging progress in the right direction. Just last night, she ripped a book, and when I asked her what happened (I had seen what happened, but she didn’t know that). She made a face and pointed to her little sister who was, as usual, hovering and following every move of her big sister. I looked at her with a serious, but not stern, look, and I asked her again. Within seconds, her face scrunched up, and she started crying and she ran to me and through her tears, she said SHE had done it, not her little sister. I put aside the laundry I was folding and I grabbed her and cuddled her and told her HOW PROUD I was of her for telling the truth. That was such a GOOD thing that she decided to tell me the truth. I told her that I know it’s not easy to tell the truth, ESPECIALLY after we tell a lie and then come back and tell the truth. It is truly a pride-swallowing experience.

After a bit, the little one came over to get into the cuddle action, we both laughed and grabbed her up into my lap so we had a girl stack and we were all giggling. I was especially proud of her because I know if she can have the self control to tell the truth at 5-years-old, the likelihood of her continuing down that path of truth and self control in future years is higher. Small victories.

Of my three, so far she appears to be the most creative and it would not surprise me if she ended up in a profession involving the arts or artistic things. She also is highly empathic, bright and she really tries to do her best at everything she attempts. And I do have to say that none of her spirit or creativity is stifled in any way by us cracking down on her tendency to lie “look creatively at a situation.”

I guess I can understand why my sister’s friend felt this way, I really can. I can feel myself in that realm of emotions sometimes, but I know it won’t do my daughter any good for us not to address an honesty issue while it is still in it’s baby stages. Otherwise this issue could have a negative effect on her future friendships, romantic relationships, work relationships and any other place where she is interacting with other people. Like any parent, I want to give my daughter the best chance possible for a happy, healthy life. And having a tendency of to creatively explain mistakes and such is not something that I believe will help reach that end in my children.

I enjoy reading your blog — I may not always agree with your view of things, but you definitely make me assess why I feel the way I do — and it is clear to me that you are passionate about helping people raise happy and healthy children as well. 😀

-Jennifer P.

🙂

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