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Helping Children With Honesty Problems

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ck1 | 09:45 Fri 02nd Nov 2018 | Family
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My son. who's 12, has always had a tendency to tell lies. Even when he was younger his first reaction to anything he had done wrong was 'it wasn't me' (even when we were watching) and when he had been caught out, rather than admitting to anything, he would come up with some convoluted justification why somebody else was to blame. Although he's really bright (top of his year by a long way, based on natural ability though not hard work) he's incredibly lazy and wont work at anything that requires a bit of effort. He plays guitar and is auditioning for a west end musical but instead of practicing he'll be playing online games, watching youtube videos but when we see what he's doing he'll say it popped up by itself or he was researching techniques, he's just so quick to have an answer other than the truth. We've recently found that he's been using the computer for 'inappropriate content' (which again wasn't him) so password protected it. The same thing happened on his phone (some of his friends borrowed it) so stopped internet access on it but allowed it for messaging his friends. We were pleased to see he was spending more time reading but now see he's been downloading "special interest" picture books on his kindle, which he has no idea how they got there. I get that he's at an age of these things becoming of interest and are embarrassing but it's the blatant lying about it that really annoys me. His main area of enthusiasm is X Box, and at the start of Summer we made a deal that if he does 1 hour of guitar practice a day he gets to play, he hasn't had it once yet so even the thing he really really wants isn't incentive enough for him. (We have given him the option to stop playing guitar if he doesn't want to continue but he tells us he really wants to so it's not that he's being forced into anything). Instead he'll watch youtube and lie about practicing. We have other incentives like school trips, being able to play in football matches, having friends over but whatever we suggest he'd rather try to be devious than actually do what he needs to do. I suppose it's all kind of innocent and not massively important stuff at the moment but my concern is that if it continues as he gets older he will see his standards dropping in everything and being top of the class will be a distant memory. And the devious attitude of trying to get away with doing nothing will not bode well for the workplace so any ideas to work on work ethic and honestly will be gratefully taken on board!

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Can I suggest that you need to see a child psychologist or behaviourist rather than ask for unqualified help on here?
Can I suggest Woofgang this is a Question and Answer site and without these questions it would fold?

ck1 I'm not an expert but have a child (now grown up) with special needs and some of this behaviour was very similar to my daughters who was eventually at 11 years old, diagnosed with Dyslexia. Dyslexia is not just an inability to spell, its a complex learning disorder which includes lack of concentration/motivation . My first port of call would be the GP who can point you in the right direction for the next step. It may be valuable to have a word with his teachers too as this may open a pathway for an assessment by a Psychologist. If you draw a blank with the NHS you could always have a private assessment and then approach your doctor with the results.
Are you what might be described as a "secular" family?
What on earth has religion got to do with this?
Sounds like yer boy is in his own world. I would ask him the question "do you think we are thick"... See what he says. Tell him you see through his lies and you'd rather him be bale to be honest with his family.
Sounds more like fibs than out and out lies.
Don't give him options! I am sure guitar less lessons cost you money - so stop them yourself.
Remove his phone and kindle and any other electric equipement and allow him paper books until he can be trusted.
However, just to point out that looking at 'soft porn' at that age is normal just its easier to get now due to computers.
Perhaps explain that not all people taking part in porn do so because they want to.
Also explain that porn can set unrealistic standards.
If your son sees you tell little lies here and there or if he sees you try to get out of trouble or blame then he may replicate these actions. You must be the change you want to see in him :) Start by honestly telling him your position. Say "you're obviously grown up enough to realise this now" and start giving him life responsibilities. This will teach him respect.
but Aunt Lydia, you made the same suggestion that I did.....
Yes just sit him in his room without anything electronic, give him a book to read and in a couple of weeks he'll emerge 'cured'.

Sounds very much like the advice I got about my dyslexic daughter. I was told by teachers that my expectations of her were 'unrealistic' and she was of low intelligence, lazy and disruptive. Good job I insisted and got a psychological report which classed her as in the top 15 percentile intelligence for her age group, but with a reading age of 4 ( she was 11). With a Statement and the teaching and the treatment she needed she got 9 GCSE's, all above B or above.
This is not 'naughtiness' and as such depriving him of things is not going to work, in fact it may may him worse
Woofgang no I did not. I gave an opinion based on experience which is part of what AB is about.
you have no idea what my experience in this may or may not be
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Pretty sure he's not dyslexic, he's got a reading / writing / maths ability way above his age.
Secular...don't see any relevance in that but I'm atheist/agnostic, his family on his mother's side are buddhist and he went to a CoE primary school.
E-safety has been a topic at school since year 5 and we're very open about content - porn, social media, fake news, phishing and so on.
Done the 'do you think we're stupid' thing, he doesn't (apparently)but I think he's son convinced he wont get caught and if he does he can deny his way out of it that it doesn't matter.
Regarding motivation, this seems to be a 'at home only' thing, in school he is a star pupil, tagged for being head boy at the end of year 7, sent for the regional STEM and maths competitions, football team captain (even though he is the only one that cant do any keepy ups as that needs some dedication!), helps stand in teachers with classwork etc.
We think that he finds the schoolwork so easy that he gets bored and needs a challenge, but whenever he gets something difficult that might inspire him he wont give it 5 minutes. Because he likes gaming, for Christmas we bought him a 'make your own gameboy' kit, all the electronics and circuit boards to build the whole thing from scratch. Even now I would love something like that but he took a look at it, realised it couldn't be done in 5 minutes and then left it. In fact the reason we got it was because he said he had built one already in STEM club at school. He said he could solder and that it took an hour to build, when we opened the kit we realised he couldn't solder and it was at least a couple of days work - why lie that he had done it before? Even when he was showing me he had no idea what to do he maintained he had done it at school. He as blackberry pi to keep his computer interest alive (untouched), a microbit (the beginner programs done) but nothing that actually challenges him will interest him although with a bit of effort he would be so good at this stuff.
AuntLidia // My first port of call would be the GP who can point you in the right direction for the next step. It may be valuable to have a word with his teachers too as this may open a pathway for an assessment by a Psychologist.//

A child tells a few lies and you run around troubling over-worked doctors, then maybe want an appointment with a Psychologist (good luck with that!) and you ask me, "What on earth has religion got to do with this (case)?"
The answer is I don't know but what I do know is that all religions, be they Christianity in it's many forms, Judaism, Buddhism and (yes) Islam, all give guidance to a child in how to behave. Also each of those religions offer support, from both the community and it's teachers.
sounds like you are pandering him - take away everything electric and give him pen and paper and books.
He can start having stuff back when he can show he can be trusted.
The problem is he's twelve, verging on moving to being autonomous and he's kicking back ( which I think is quite normal) against you making decisions for him. I would personally give him more responsibility, personal responsibility that is. If he wants to be in a West End musical he's going to have to be good, so it would benefit him to practice but if he chooses not to that will result in him being unlikely to be cast, but give him the choice to choose to practice or not, then when he's not cast he will learn the glorious lesson of cause and effect, which will serve him very well. When I was a child there were no rules in our house whatsoever except be a decent human being, that sounds chaotic but it wasn't people learned and quickly, that if they did or did not do certain things there were always consequences brought about by themselves. Bring him on board the decision making processes of things that relate to him, otherwise this will get into a cycle of him being deceitful, you catching him, giving him a hard time, him feeling dis-empowered and then doing it over and over again in ever increasing degrees. Treat him more like the young adult he is growing into.
Porn is a difficult thing, it's your internet connection, you have every right not to allow him to watch that obviously, but he's going to somewhere because people at that age and interested and curious, so as Spath says explain Porn is fine and normal in degrees in adult relationships and you understand his interest but that it can set unrealistic standards and that's not what anyone's adult relationships are actually like, can be coersive, and you don't want him watching that in your house because of that.
I think if you continue to take things away, punish and assert your authority he's going to do it all the more, it's clearly not working, so I think you need to establish a truthful dialogue with him and set some steady ground on which to build an honest relationship. x
// but Aunt Lydia, you made the same suggestion that I did.....//

yeah woof - I noticed
Aunt L: woof - dont just bat it to the docs - now this is a serious problem and I .... think you should see your GP

but this IS AB.....
Just read your second reply ck1 about him lying about his accomplishments- he wants to please and impress you, that smacks to me of a someone who lacks self esteem, which could also be a reason for lying- when he disappoints you, he knows that so he lies to try to avoid detection, and then it all gets worse, including the self esteem.
I'd agree with consulting a child psychologist - if only to determine whether this is normal fibbing or more compulsive lying which can be indicative of several deeper psychological disorders. The fact he's super bright but unmotivated also add to that possibility. I've certainly known an adult compulsive liar who just couldn't help themselves and it had a very negative affect on his socialising - as a child though his parents just dismissed it as ' he tells more lies than Tom Pepper'

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