We were constantly worried as parents when our 9-year-old daughter kept on lying constantly. Most of the time she was caught immediately but it didn’t deter her from lying. It was quite heart wrenching for us. We were extremely worried. We kept on talking to her. We kept on explaining. We kept on punishing her, we kept on loving her, we kept on preaching and teaching. But nothing, simply NOTHING, was working. We asked other family members to talk to her. Inside, it was eating me. Profound grief and sorrow engulfed me.
I tried every trick in the book. Tried to reason with her. Tried to explain to her patiently and calmly. Tried carrot and stick policy. Tried to say to her that gradually you will get rid of that habit. Tried to tell her that we believed her. But we were hitting a massive wall which was making us bleed.
Every day I woke up with determination and went to sleep with sense of doom. I tried to get to the bottom of things. When you are a parent, giving up is simply not an option. Sometimes I tried coercion and resorted to threats. Sometimes I tried emotional blackmail. But to no avail.
One day her teacher wrote in her diary that your daughter is not bringing lunch box because you are sick hence unable to prepare anything for her in the morning. The teacher in all good intention suggested us that give her some money because it’s difficult to concentrate on studies while having an empty stomach. She hid all her food in a pouch of her school bag. We were simply dumbfounded. How can things go THAT much wrong? My grief knew no bounds. What she told her teacher was partially true. I was sick. In fact so much sick that doctors advised me complete bed rest for months. But I packed her lunch box everyday. Not giving her lunch was not an option.
First we grounded her for a month. We told her patiently and calmly without showing much emotion. But as parents, saying we were extremely worried, was an understatement. By now we were thinking of getting professional help. We conveyed our feelings to the teacher too.
Our daughter was going to be grounded for whole month. She was not going to use her iPad, not going to watch TV, not going to touch my cell phone or lap top and not going to use her father’s computer. Not going out to play with other kids. We were naturally concerned. After 2 days we decided not to curb her outside playtime with other kids. We allowed her one hour playtime.
We purchased lots of storybooks. Lots of it and color books too. She loves origami, so we allowed her to watch youtube videos related to this. After few weeks, we realized suddenly that she has stopped lying altogether. Once in a while she lies but not the way she used to. So what happened during those days?
Actually my daughter was hooked to online world or virtual world. We didn’t realize when it has turned into an obsession. She had started resenting the real world and in her haste to get back to her own world, she used to lie whatever came to her mind. As before sleeping time she would be watching a video, and when I asked her to brush her teeth, she would calmly say, “I have already brushed my teeth!” If she was in the middle of something and I would ask for the pencil lying nearby her, she wouldn’t listen. If I insisted that she should first finish her dinner then watch something, she would throw the food away when I was away and coolly tell me that she had finished eating. She had no patience for the real happenings in the real world. In her haste to get back to the virtual world, easiest thing for her was to lie.
During her one month grounding period, when we took away her virtual world and replaced it with storybooks, color books, crayons, pictures, board games and friends, her lying habit disappeared. Now her grounding period is over and we do allow her to watch one or two programs on TV or few songs on youtube. But we keep a strict watch on her virtual world. We don’t use TV and internet as a babysitter. We also realized that she is very much fond of reading story books and her favorite author is Roald Dahl! When we purchased story books for her, she used to finish abridged versions in a day!
It’s not just her lying that vanished, she no more an irritable, short tempered kid. Her attention span has improved considerably. She had this habit of not writing anything in her class, that too improved. Now we the parents are not that obstruction standing between her and her world. She opened up towards our suggestions and advises. So everything is hunky dory now? No way. As parenting is an ongoing journey which throws new hurdles almost daily. But when a child is existing in our chaotic world there will always be a method in madness.