I once received a phone call from a distraught parent, “My fourteen-year-old son lies non-stop about everything. It’s so bad that if he keeps this up, we’ve threatened to send him to boot camp!” I thought, “That must be some serious lying!” The teen had been adopted at the age of two, some early trauma was present. The father was a retired Vietnam veteran, which is typically an indicator at the very least, of exposure to a traumatic environment. Nothing significant stood out concerning the mother’s history. As well as lying, the child had been skipping class and wrestling practice; I gave the parent’s three suggestions to follow for the next two weeks:
1. Make sure that your son is attending all of his classes daily. Call the teachers, e-mail them, do whatever you must to ensure he is attending. If he is not, then we must focus on this issue first. Let him quit wrestling if wants to. Continuing to wrestle and being stressed out is not worth the positives that might be gained at this time. (This topic alone is fodder for an entire article!)
2. Spend 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with your son every evening, allowing him to talk about anything he would like. Turn off the television and put down the newspaper, just listen to what he’s talking about.
3. The main part of the Lying Solution: When he lies, take several deep breaths. Look at him with sorrow in your eyes because you now see the fear driving the lie. Ignore the Lie, but Don’t Ignore Him — say, “Son, I love you. You are not ever going anywhere, and everything is going to be alright. Do you understand?” Once he nods in agreement, turn and walk away. Never mention the lie. Wait one hour. Once you are calm, go back to him. Interrupt whatever he is doing. Take him by the hand, look him in the eyes and say, “Son, you know I love you right? I love you very much. When you tell me a lie, it really scares me. It hurts me as well, because it tells me that you don’t trust me. Then I worry that I can’t keep you safe. I need you to know that you can trust me and everything is going to be okay. Do you understand?” Once the child nods his head in belief, you have officially completed the Three Step Lying Solution.
Telling the truth is very difficult. If telling the truth was an easy thing there would be few incidences of lying. When an individual, unconsciously, is fearful of being rejected, abandoned, ridiculed, or shamed, the prospect of honesty becomes daunting. To continue our story, following two weeks, I had not heard back from the parents. Finally, after six weeks I received a phone call, it was from the mother. She exclaimed, “Hello, Dr. Post, its Sharon from California. I know it has been longer than two weeks, but you won’t believe it, my son has made a complete turnaround! In fact, he has even gotten a job at the local swimming pool. Hallelujah.” The recommendations were not magical. What is magical is when parents are able to see things differently. Two of the recommendations alone: Spending 20 minutes uninterrupted with their son each evening and telling him he’s never going anywhere, could have made a significant difference by themselves. In the United States, the average amount of quality parent-child time is 13 minutes! They almost doubled that. In addition, John Bowlby, the father of attachment theory, stated that the threat of loss is equal to loss itself. In other words, you should never threaten to send a child away because of their behavior. If so, you are going to create more fear, which will only trigger the rejection they’ve already experienced. This will lead to depression, anger, and the need to lie better. Thousands of parents have utilized The Three Step Lying Solution effectively. More than a handful of parents have reported using it just one time and their children have not told a lie since. Though it is simple, simple does not mean easy. It can be difficult to put into place, but it is very effective once you finally use it.
Copyright© 2006 Dr. Bryan Post. All rights reserved.