My 7 year old niece is a compulsive and pathological liar, it seems. She lies about stupid things and to avoid being punished when she breaks rules. She sometimes makes up stories that never happened, but most of the time she tells stories that did happen, but changes details to include herself in the story, even if she wasn't there when the event occured. When she wants to avoid being punished, she will also lie and say she didn't push her brother, for example, if she thinks no one else saw her. She is already a skilled "back-paddler", as well. When I question her extensively about a lie, she will often say things like, "well...........maybe it was my brother", or "Wait......um.......I don't remember for sure." That way, when the truth comes out, she has that to fall back on saying she told you she didn't remember for sure. She has been seeing a therapist for over a year now, with no progress whatsoever. Both of her parents lie, but only to avoid consequences. Neither of them thinks that they lie, and each blame the other. She has two brothers, one is 9 and one is 3. Neither of them are afflicted by this behavior. Is this middle child syndrome? Is she trying to get attention? If so, what should we do when she makes up story lie? We've tried ignoring her, calling her on the lie and producing witnesses who also tell her what she said isn't true. (That's how she's learned to back-paddle so well). I've tried giving her the opportunity, without punishment, to retract the lie, but she won't do it. I've told her lying is rude, it hurts my feelings for her to treat me that way since I've never lied to her and I never will. We've (her mother, father, grandparents, and aunts & uncles) all tried various punisments like time out, grounding, reasoning with her that the lie was stupid, and shame (God doesn't like it when you lie). When questioned, she knows the difference between the truth and a lie. She says the truth is what actually happened to someone. She also makes up injuries and illnesses when her siblings are sick and receiving attention for those actual illnesses. I've read that it is a normal development step for children to need to lie successfully to their parents once, but this is out of control. I would estimate she compulsively lies 1 to 3 times per day, and lies to attempt escaping punisment every time there is the possibility of one. Other than professional help, what measures are recommended to stop this devastating life behavior?
First, I'm curious why you are punishing her. Why has everyone tried all sorts of things with her - grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.? I can't picture a family dymanic where everyone is punishing this child.
There are two kinds of lies here - lies to get out of being in trouble (probably the more normal kind of lie, and kind of understandable) then there's the kind of lie to get admiration.
She needs to learn to get admiration in other ways - for being able to tell a really interesting story (that doesn't involve her, it's just as interesting to the audience if she's telling that the neighbor was bitten by a snake or whatever but she doesn't have to be involved) and also to get the positive feedback from being the kid who could be counted on to get the story straight.
Being the kid that the teacher calls aside to ask what happened, because that kid is a good and honest reporter - or having other kids go to her for advice because she has a reputation for at least always trying to be completely fair is way more rewarding.
Just reiterating that to her - that she wants to have a reputation for being the smart, knowledgeable kid.
And maybe fewer adults should be testing out punishments on this one child.
You're probably right that less people need to be punishing her, but right now, I don't see any way around it. Her paternal grandparents are sueing her mother for custody and currently have court orderd visitation, as does her father, who lives with me. When the kids are here for their weekend visits with their father, and he is at work, I watch them. I am their primary caregiver when they are here because their father is more of a "fun dad", although he hopes to help her correct this too. I am their Aunt because I was once married to their mother's brother. Although we've been divorced for several years, I've remained close with his family. I never though about giving her the idea that she needs to stop this behavior so she can be relied upon more by authority figures and friends. I will discuss it with the family immediately! Thanks so much for your help!
Sorry for writing a book, I was just frustrated with the situation.
All family being involved helps the child to realize that this is not just the parent's rule. That this is a standard that everyone is held to. etc. When my children are throwing a fit at the store and I'm working with them to get control of themselves, I appreciate when a brave soul comes over and "backs me up" with words to my children such as, you need to listen. or hey, you're too old to be acting that way :) etc. Mind you one is four but I appreciate them learning that it's not a battle between them and mommy. It's just standards.
Oh woman how i feel for you. My sons father has a 7 year old compulsive liar. she is a skillfull manipulater also. I can't take it sometimes. I love my boyfriend but his daughter makes our relationship miserable and I know how it sounds to an outside person or someone who has never been in this situation but I get panic attacks from 2 seconds in the same room with her. I never knew what it was called but she too will back pettal and do the whole " oh i forgot, or I don't remember" And aslo, we have tried encouragement and punishment. neither worked and in fact the encouragement made things worse. She started making up stories about doing good deeds just to be praised. OMGoodness. I am near a breakdown. Its easy to say the family should spend less time punishing and more time rewarding and encouraging, but untill you spend year after year after year with a lying manipulating decieving spitefull child, you have no idea in the world. Keep a close eye on your animals. We have had 5 kittens go missing the last year. Good luck to you. Sounds like you will need it.
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