dishonest toddler
Lying toddler

Dealing with a Lying Toddler

I have now had my first experience of a lying toddler and as usual these things took me by surprise.

It was a normal morning driving to work. Just as I was about to arrive at the day care to drop off my nearly 3 year old daughter I had one of those moments that hit completely unexpectedly. Out of the blue. We were talking and being silly when my daughter told me “I’m eina, Papa hit me”. I thought nothing of it and asked her what she did this morning to try and find out what really happened. She replied “Papa hit me, in the face… it was a bad one”.

This was obviously not true, but it took me by surprise that she would say something like that at all. I immediately explained to her what a lie is and also told her that big people are not allowed to hit children in the face, it is very wrong. I asked her again what happened and again she said that he had hit her in the face.

I have heard that children start lying at a young age, but I was completely unprepared for it so young and for it to be something like this. This hit me in a number of ways.

The first being what happens if she tells a teacher that? Would they have to report it and would there be an investigation against my husband who is the most patient, caring and loving father? Why would her first lie be something like this?

I spoke to her teacher about it and she said it is perfectly normal. I also spoke to another mom that morning and she agreed it is normal and she has experienced similar things with her 3 children. I then called my husband and asked if there was anything that morning that could have prompted her to say something like that and he said there wasn’t.

There have been plenty of occasions where my daughter has tripped over my feet and fell on her face, or I take a step back and she is suddenly flying, because I didn’t know she was standing behind me, but nothing that morning. The only physical contact they had was when he kissed her good-bye on his way out to work.

It was overwhelming how many things went through my head that day. I am fortunate in that I am married to a wonderful, caring man that is an incredible father. There is no doubt in my mind that nothing happened, but still I couldn’t get out of my head that some fathers rape, beat and abuse their own children! Some children tell their mothers and they react exactly like I did, and tell their child not to lie! How do you deal with a situation like this correctly?

What if tomorrow my daughter tells me her teacher hit her through the face? How do I know what the truth is? I want to be the sort of mother who trusts everything her children says and supports her children in every way. I want my children to trust me and be able to tell me anything.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this incident and talking to my husband about it, but being a male he thinks I am over analyzing the episode. I felt that how I dealt with the situation, even though the child is so small, will shape so many vital things in the future. I wanted to do the right thing, especially because we live in a violent, crime rampant country.

When I got home with my daughter I sat her down and explained to her again what a lie is. I explained to her that an adult hitting a child in the face is very bad. I asked her again what happened and without hesitation she told me yet again that he hit her in the face. When my husband came home we all sat down together and again she said it. I told her that we won’t tolerate lying in our house and as a consequence of her lie she was not allowed to watch any tv or play with the ipad for the rest of the day. I have never given her such a harsh consequence before and she just looked at me and carried on playing with her other toys which made me think she either hadn’t heard me correctly or didn’t understand. The interesting thing is that she didn’t attempt to put the tv on or use the ipad which just goes to show she understood her consequence perfectly and accepted it.

My theory about how to deal with it is to deal with it swiftly. If she lies to confront her immediately, hand out a consequence and move on. I also did something different that night for bedtime story. I told her the story of the boy who cried wolf in the hopes that she will understand that lying always has consequences.

This happened about a week ago and I am still hashing over the incident in my mind wondering if I could have possibly dealt with it any better. Did I deal with it correctly at all? I often wonder if other moms second guess themselves as much as I do or are these incidents really not important and I am the only mother sitting obsessing about things like this?

I was prepared for the toddler tantrum phase and after that the cheekiness and other manipulation, but it never occurred to me that I would have to deal with a lying toddler.

I discussed this incident with my mother on the evening it happened and she didn’t say much to me at the time. She called me today, nearly 2 weeks after the incident to tell me it has been on her mind and we rehashed the whole thing together. She also shared with me that when I was in pre-school I went to school with a bruise on my forehead and when the teacher asked me what happened I told her that my mother hit me on the head with a hair brush!

The best part of my mother calling me today just proves to me that I am not crazy and obsessive, I am just a mom trying to ensure the best for my child. Either that or it’s just me and my mother heading for the loony bin, but I am not totally alone.

Have you had a similar experience and how did you deal with it?

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6 comments

  1. Oh my word! I’m not sure at this stage what I will do. That’s crazy and so out of the blue, I do like the way you handled it though by explaining that its wrong and that there was a consequence and then reinforcing it with a story. I better remember this for when my turn comes.

  2. Joanne that is exactly what got me, so out of the blue! Thankfully we haven’t had another incident, but always tough to get things like this thrown at me and have to think what is the right thing to do at the time 🙂 Have you read my toddlers and genitals blog? You’ll probably have a good laugh… Another out of the blue incident having to think quick.

  3. At some point, I came to the same conclusion to just deal very swiftly with the lying and confront it head on. Now my daughter is the most candid person and never lies. Very proud of her 😀

    • This post was written some time back and all lying has been dealt with swiftly. Pleased to say she is getting much better now, she understands what a lie is and if she doesn’t want to tell me something she doesn’t lie. She just keeps quiet and looks at me with her guilty face for a long time. Eventually she will tell me what really happened. So there is definitely improvement. Talking to other moms it is apparently very common for kids to start lying at this age.

  4. My sisters toddler was lying in a way that you will want to hit him,he was justva naughty lying so now they find his weakness of the animal he scared of,when tellsvus something we simply say if you dont tell the truth we will bring a snake in the house,and he was starting to tell the truth no mre lies.

  5. I dont know how i will react or handle the situation…but its scary and i think every child sometime in their life lie about something for a reason as long as its not a regular habit of laying.

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