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Category Archives: lying

The More You Talk The Less They Listen

Do you notice that when you begin to talk, your teenager’s eyes glaze over?

And do you keep on talking?

It’s just soooo hard not to, right?

We just know that what we have to say is SO important. They need to hear it. And maybe…if we just say it one more time…or in a different way…they’ll get it/understand/change what they are doing. And yet…the more we talk, the less they seem to listen.

Think about it...By the time your kids are teenagers, how many things do you say to them that they have not heard from you…like a bazillion times already?

What is your goal when you talk to (lecture???) your teenager? Is it to get them to think or do what YOU want them to think or do?

OR do you want them to learn to think for themselves?

Sometimes we need to find out what kids already know, what they think, and how they came to those conclusions. The way to do that is to learn to ask questions…good questions. These are the kind of questions that come from “I’m curious about what you know and what you think. I don’t already know, but I’d like to.”

And then really listen to their answer.

The next question you ask should be to follow what they have said, not to try to lead them to a conclusion you want them to come to. This is a way that kids have an opportunity to explore their beliefs with you.

The main “rules” for asking questions are:

  1. If you know the answer, don’t ask the question. Don’t set kids up to lie to you by “giving them the opportunity to tell the truth.”  Most kids won’t, if they think they can get away with it. (This does not mean that you ignore something that they have done, just that you address the issue without asking if they did it.) “We agreed that you would come straight home after school today and you went to the mall instead. These are the consequences…” Rather than asking, “What did you do after school today?”
  2. Stay curious. Don’t assume you know their answer. Don’t have an answer that you want them to give you. The point of asking questions is to get information– NOT to quiz them to see if they have listened to you and can remember something that you have told them.
Asking questions is so that you can learn how your teenager perceives the world. You can give them the gift of learning how to think…not just what to think.

So take the time to find out what your kids think, or know…or think they know. If you do this well, I guarantee it will be interesting.

(Next week we will talk about how to ask those REALLY GOOD questions so that your kids will talk to you.)

Want more tips and ideas? Check out “Upcoming Workshops” or “Problems with your teen?”

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How to deal with “lying” and create a larger circle of support for your kids

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Lying is a common problem that comes up for parents. The thing that’s really soooo bad about lying is that it destroys trust. We lose the ability to trust what they tell us. It also undermines the “moral” character that we are trying to instill.

So why do our kids lie to us? Most commonly it is because they are afraid to tell the truth because they are afraid they will get in trouble (and they will get lectured or lose privilege) or that we will freak out…or both.

One of the things that I love about working with groups is that some parents have brilliant and inspired strategies. Before I share their stories, I want to challenge you to examine a few ideas about your relationship with your kids.

1. “Mistakes” and “bad decisions” are some of the greatest opportunities we have to learn.

2. When was the last time you got punished for making a mistake or a bad decision? What did you learn from being punished?

3. What does your child learn from punishment? (Frequently they learn to “get sneakier” or to “lie better”.)

4. Would it be more beneficial for them to learn to deal with the problem they have created?  (I am, in no way, suggesting that they shouldn’t have consequences.)

5. Do you really need to know EVERYTHING that your teenager does?

6. Do you need to be “the one” that your kid talks to OR can you encourage them to have a relationship with another adult ~ hopefully one who will be available to offer them guidance and support?

7. Do you want your child to tell you the truth so that you have information about the guidance and skills they need or so that you can “catch them” doing bad things?

Stories from the front lines:

This courageous woman is a “New mother”. Her first child is a 14 year old girl whom she is adopting. When she was first confronted with lying she told her daughter why she didn’t want her to lie and what she did want: “I want to trust you and believe you.” Then she offered her alternatives: “If you think I can’t handle the truth, tell me so. Say, “I can’t tell you because I think you’ll freak out.” OR “Can I tell you now but not talk about it until you calm down?” OR “I can’t talk to you about this so I talked to my auntie about it instead.” or even, “I can’t tell you the truth because I am afraid to.” After offering alternatives she requested, “Just…don’t lie to me.”

Another mom offered her daughter a six month “statute of limitations”. “If you did something more than six months ago and I didn’t catch you, you can talk to me about it now and not get into trouble for it.” When she did this, her daughter began sharing some of the things that she had done. Mom was able to keep her word and it opened the door to be able to offer her daughter guidance, information, problem solving skills, and support in making better choices in the future.

We WANT to hear the good stuff. We NEED to hear the hard stuff. If we want to trust our children to tell us the truth, they need to be able to trust that we can handle it in a positive way…or hook them up with someone who can.

Looking for more hints and tips on parenting teens? Check out “Upcoming Workshops”.