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Is it too harsh?

My 10 yr old son has begun lying to me the last few months. And I'm not talking little things, I'm talking staring me directly in the face and lying to me. The latest one is just a few minutes ago, I caught him going through tools in the garage that he knows he's not allowed to touch, caught him standing on the ladder, touching the tools, and he turned around and told me no, he wasn't, he was punching the punching bag that we have out there. And he does this constantly.

I've tried everything I could think of. I've grounded, I've taken privileges, I've taken toys and games and sent him to bed early. I've exhausted every other option I can think of. So this time I told him that from now on, I just can't believe anything he says to me. I told him that I'll have to take everything he tells me as a lie, if I can't verify that it's the truth. I told him that I will be questioning everything that comes out of his mouth, no matter how minor and insignificant it might be.

He stared at me with eyes filling with tears, and it made me feel so damn guilty. Am I being too harsh? I mean, I honestly feel like I've tried everything else I can try. I feel like this is really the only thing left. But I hate to see my little boy cry!


Asked by Anonymous at 3:31 PM on Nov. 5, 2013 in Tweens (9-12)

This question is closed.
Answers (7)
  • I encourage you to consider that it's not the only thing left. (Taking such an adversarial, oppositional stance.) There are other possibilities, so I would not do this just because you think there's no other option!

    As far as his behavior...lying is a survival strategy. The behavior you describe is part of the stress model; it's not good, logical thinking (or pre-frontal cortex functioning--the part of the brain that governs logic, higher reasoning, impulse control.) It's flight/freeze/flight survival thinking. It is evidence that he has down-shifted into automatic, impulsive reactions, survival mode.

    If you feel very tense & fearful around his lying (such as, that he'll be "like his father") it likely is not helping things. Kids do try to give us the answer we want and they also are optimists--it just might work this time! Since fear leads to this behavior, try to respond in ways that address the underlying cause.

    Answer by girlwithC at 5:19 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • Nope.
    Is it just the tools?
    A 10 years of age he should be able to use tools with supervision. My suggestion is to start teaching him. Lowes and HomeDepot have classes for kids on some weekends. They are just little projects but they learn about tools.

    Answer by Dardenella at 4:16 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • OMG... really? Seriously? Are you freakin kidding me? There is nothing about parenting that is for wimps. Man up.

    Answer by m-avi at 4:34 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • at that age, I'd be finding out WHY he lied/ lies
    is he afraid of the punishment for bing in the tools? How harsh would that be?


    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 3:40 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • That's the biggest part of the problem - half the time when he lies, it's about stupid stuff that he is in more trouble for lying about it than for actually doing it! I ask him why he's doing it and all he ever says is that he doesn't know. I tell him if he'll just tell me the truth, he won't be in trouble at all, and he still will stick with the lie. I don't understand it. My ex is a liar, too, so I don't know. Maybe it's genetic? I just don't know what else to do.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 3:43 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • Is it just the tools?
    A 10 years of age he should be able to use tools with supervision.

    It's a variety of things. And it's not about whether or not he could use them, it's about the fact that he knows he does not have permission to get into them unless he asks, and he didn't ask. He'll do this with lots of things. He'll do something like yell and then blame it on his brother, who sounds nothing like him when he yells, not to mention that I'll be looking right at him when he does. And I really don't think it's fear of punishment for what he did that he's lying about, because I am very careful to make sure punishment fits crime. I will take a step back and wait to decide what punishment will be until I've calmed down if I'm really angry. That's why I'm wondering on this. I was angry when I did it, and it has me wondering if I did go overboard.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 5:17 PM on Nov. 5, 2013

  • OMG... really? Seriously? Are you freakin kidding me? There is nothing about parenting that is for wimps. Man up.

    I know this. He is my very sensitive child, though, and his tears get to me. His feelings are easily hurt, but he doesn't usually cry over punishments. And as I said, I try to make sure I am mostly calm before I punish, and this time I didn't, so I just wonder if I was too harsh.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 5:19 PM on Nov. 5, 2013