Need Help, ProblemsWith Lying

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2006
Need Help, ProblemsWith Lying
Mon, 01-12-2009 - 2:53pm
I have a 9 year old step-daughter who lives with us full-time. We are getting increasingly concerned, as well as frustrated with her behavior. She has begun lying a LOT. I'm very worried, because her biomom is a pathological liar, and bipolar.
SD has always had a problem with telling small lies, but we started becoming aware that there was a bigger problem when we got a phone call from our neighbors. Their daughter plays with my SD, and they told us that their daughter had been in trouble at school, and had gotten a "yellow" mark on her behavior sheet that day. Their daughter told SD that she couldn't play with her that day because of her behavior. So, SD decided she would take the yellow sticker off the sheet and hide it, so that the girl could play. Then, when her parents found out- SD lied about doing it.
We told our SD that we just got a phone call from her parents, and that she had one chance to tell us the truth about what happened. Long story short, she didn't. Hubby sent her to her room, and called her back down later and asked again- and told her this was serious, and that she wouldn't get Christmas presents from us if she lied to us again. Well, she continued to lie.
That was a month or so ago. We have met with her school counselor and so has SD, and the behavior has not's gotten worse. She lies to us at least 3 times a day. She doesn't just lie to get out of trouble, but for anything. We've had many talks with her. It's frightening because she will lie right to our faces, while acting like she has no idea what we're talking about. She will even lie if you SAW her do it. I've told her not to do something (and I know she heard me, because she is standing right in front of me, and I will say "you you understand me?"), and then she does it- and when I say "why did you do that?" she gives me this look like I'm crazy, and says "you didn't tell me that." or "I didn't know you said that." We don't know what to do anymore, it's getting ridiculous. We told her that she doesn't have the trust of a 9 year old anymore, we cannot trust her to do many things other kids her age get to do. I even have to watch her in the backyard while playing, like she's a 3 year old.
Does anyone have any advice?


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 01-13-2009 - 8:52pm

If I know the answer to a question I don't ask them; I don't give them an opportunity to lie to me about it. So if I was the one to get that call from a neighbor, instead of asking her if she did it, I might either ask her why she did it or if my dd had a history of lying I would just tell her that I got a call from Mrs. X and since she did this, this (what ever the appropriate punishment would be) will be her punishment. And I'd be honest with her too -- since she has history of lying, I'm not going to believe her when she tells me she didn't do something, I'm going to believe the other person.

I also make a distinction between lying and story telling/wishful thinking. If they are just telling me something outrageous or something that they would like to be true, I will sometimes let it pass with "oh wouldn't that be nice if it could really happen."

At my son's school the 4th and 5th graders are on a behavioral contract. There is a system of consequences for breaking the "rules". 1st time they get a warning, 2nd time, missed recess, 3rd time is a letter(they write) and their parents are called, 4th time is a visit to the prinicpal's office. It starts over each day, so the start of each day is a clean slate. They call them time outs and there is a form the student fills out and returns to the teacher. This way they can not claim that they didn't know they were issued a warning, aka time out, and they can not claim they didn't know what it was for. At the start of the school year the entire class goes over the class and school rules, they not only go over them but they bring them home and go over it with their parents. The parents sign the rules and description of the consequences and it gets returned. Based on what you are describing I would be tempted to start something like that at home. I would be wondering what to do differently and it would drive me nuts too. Do you think having the house rules, expectations and consequences written out, discussed and agreed to as a family would help?

Then I have a question for you; how good are you and your husband about following through on what you tell her will happen? Did you take her Christmas presents away because she didn't admit what she had done? If you are not going to follow through with what you tell her is the consequence for lying she isn't going to believe you and she isn't going to stop. Why should she if she rarely has to deal with the hard consequences?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-24-2005
Mon, 01-19-2009 - 6:16pm

We told her that she doesn't have the trust of a 9 year old anymore, we cannot trust her to do many things other kids her age get to do. I even have to watch her in the backyard while playing, like she's a 3 year old.
Does anyone have any advice?

My advice--follow through on this. Yes, it's going to be painful for you and your husband because there are going to be many things that SD won't be able to do that other nine year olds take for granted, but she's proven to you time and time again that she can't be trusted with those privileges. SD wants to go over a friend's house? -- "I'm sorry. No. We can't trust you. Your friend's more than welcome to come over here because we can see what's going on." Activities may have to be limited to ones where you or DH can remain in the same room or at the very least the same building so that you can be right there if something troublesome should occur or, especially if this inconvenience really affects the other children in your family, she may not be able to participate

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-29-2006
Fri, 01-30-2009 - 5:59pm
We had a little liar.