Get widget

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 54: The Art of Lying to your Kids

Problem: You need your kids to do something. Right now. Whether it be stop crying, leave a location, or change an activity, you need them to do it five minutes ago. But your toddlers will not budge without some sort of explanation from you, and the truth just isn't cutting it. Either it's too complicated, or it's just not what they want to hear. Regardless, they've asked you why they have to leave or change routine, and the truthful answer has been less than satisfactory, leading to tears and troubles.

Solution: I know I've said previously that I never lie to my kids. Well, I lied. Haha. It turns out, sometimes we really need to get a move on, and they cannot grasp the full truth at the moment of turmoil either because they aren't patient enough to listen to the whole thing, or the concept is complicated and will take a lot of calm brainpower to digest.  Here are two examples:

This morning, the babies woke up to their favorite babysitter being gone. This was unacceptable. They tramped up to my room, demanding, "Mama! Where's Rachel?" In my sleepy haze, I tried to tell them that Rachel had her own home and only came to visit us sometimes. No good, too long, and still led to the fact that Rachel wasn't here for a reason they couldn't understand. So, it being 6:30 a.m. I decided that Rachel was probably still sleeping. I said, "Rachel is sleeping."

Problem solved.

Later in the day, we went to an outing at their new preschool. We had to sign them up for classes and after somehow muscling them away from the playground, we waited in line for 30 minutes before getting in for our 30-minute appt. So, an hour. In that hour, they started deflating the bouncy houses and closing up that area. The babies wanted to go outside and dance, and when I led them out there, they could see the deconstruction. "Look," I said, "It's closed now. School is closed. We'll have to come back when it opens again, okay?"

Was the school closed? No. Was the section they wanted to play in changing? Yes. But the second explanation would not have been acceptable to them as they have trouble compartmentalizing, still. It's all or nothing with them. If the school is closed, that means we have to go home, and that means it's not mommy's fault.

I'll take it.

Problem: You don't want to lie to your kids.

Solution: You're not. After you get them out or get them to do what you need them to do, you can explain the nuances of the situation to your heart's content. They'll be calmer, since they won't be in the thick of it anymore and the problem will seem less urgent to them. In this way, they'll be able to listen and understand better than they would have in the moment.

For instance, after breakfast, I explained to the babies that Rachel had her own home and went to sleep there, and now she's probably awake and eating breakfast, too, and that she'll be back soon to play with them.


And once we were in the car, driving away from school, I explained that the school has different sections, like inside and outside and different rooms, and that some of the rooms were still open, but those were not the ones we wanted, so for us, the place we wanted to be was closed, but not the whole school.


There is always time for the truth. The trick is deciding when that time is.

If you like this blog, please vote on Tales of an Unlikely Mother is number 17, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up! Thank you so, so much.


  1. I love it. My twins are almost 2 1/2 and we're having to try to explain those things their minds can't wrap around. I found your blog tonight, and am now following it.
    Enjoy your week!

  2. My favorite example of this is when I used to babysit and the kid I was watching would not go to bed without his mom. 'She'll be home before you wake up' was too difficult a concept for him, since he wanted her NOW and who knew how long she'd be gone while he was sleeping?! My trick was 'As soon as you fall asleep your mom will be home'. Technically a lie but to him he would sleep through the whole time she was gone and when he woke up there she was! I appreciate this would have failed miserably if he had woken in the middle of the night and she'd still been gone, but thankfully that never came to pass.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...