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David Akiva
David Akiva, BA, MA,
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 167
Experience:  Counselor; Behavioral Consultant
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Our 12 year old son has a habit of lying and when asked about his usual answer is I

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Our 12 year old son has a habit of lying and when asked about his usual answer is "I forgot" example: recently he asked to go to an amusement park with a friend. I explained to him thah it was not a good idea right now. Later that day he called his Mom and mentioned that Dad said it was ok. The next day his Mom was making a check out to a classmates Mom and I asked what it was for. The answer made me quite mad and when I asked my son in front of his Mom what the earlier conversation in the morning was about he acknowledged I said no but he forgot. This is a continuing challenge for us and our biggest fear is our lack of trust now when we ask questions.

Duddy :

Welcome, I am a professional counselor, behavioral-consultant and relationship expert. I've wor

Duddy :

..ked as a behavioral consultant for a major school board and as treatment program developer/therapist for high behavioral needs kids. I've studied and worked with behavioral parent training for many years.

Duddy :

I'd like to chat for a few minutes to better understand your situation and your question.

Customer:

ok

Customer:

I am available to chat.

Duddy :

Great. I was just offline myself briefly due to a short power failure.

Duddy :

You've really stated your problem clearly in your presenting description. What I'd like to do here is better understand your specific question. How can I best help you here?

Duddy :

Is it that you want evidence-based parenting strategies to help your son to learn not to lie? Do you want to know why most kids do lie? I'll check back a bit later for your response.

Customer:

Evidence - based strategies to help our son to learn not to lie would be very helpful. We get very frustrated and with frustration we raise our voice and tell him being a liar is not a good thing which is probably not the right approach. If we ask during school year if homework is complete, or any projects to work on or did he complete a chore he will always look at us straight up and say yes. He always gets caught and knows there are consequences and the reply is always "Oh I forgot". Not having trust in a family is horrible,especially a child.

Duddy :

The behavioral parent training and treatment research say that the use of positive reinforcement is very important in many areas of parental discipline with teens. For example, teaching and learning that is not directly related to safety, should be done when things are emotionally and socially positive. If the new learning is enjoyable or postive, then it sticks and generalizes into real life when it's needed, better....

Duddy :

Many parents try to teach during punishment and scolding. This makes sense when there's danger. But otherwise the child will avoid that kind of learning like he does scolding because they get linked. Same is true of teaching when things are not stressful. You could watch a movie together or read a book that you choose about the importance of telling the truth, for example. You could let him know how it makes you feel (before you get angry) and what the consequences of lying in the real world can be......

Duddy :

Another thing that's often emphasized is the importance of the environment and the need for supervision and for parents to be on the same page. Kids often lie simply because of the short term positive consequence. They are not fully developed intellectually to see he long term negative consequences of their behavior. So if they can get out of a scolding they may lie. If they can enjoy hanging out with friends or spending more time playing video games, they may lie. It's not well thought out, in most cases it's just automatic and common at this age.

Duddy :

Another example of "positive" parenting is to flip the loss of privileges on its head. This turns "punishment", which in behavioral science terms, actually increases bad behavior when you're not looking, into an oppertunity to use postive reinforcement.

Duddy :

The way this works is when there's poor behavioral choices being made, then it's time for zero privileges, yes, but you can earn them back for making positive choices. Not lying for a period of time is a kind of none behavior. It's better to reinforce an active and observable behavior in it's place. For example you could target a homework routine in the evening and link it to accessing privileges.

Duddy :

You could also really look at the situation and identify times when the lying is more likely, and teach an alternative behavior, like coming to talk to both parents in an otherwise "divide and conquer scenario. You can also look or "scan" for honesty and really catch praise and/or award privileges for it. It's called "catch em being good." You've probably heard this phrase.

Duddy :

Let me know you're thoughts here.

Customer:

I had to read your thoughts a few times. Any transcripts or books, movies to suggest? We have in the past spent time with a child psychologist and our son went through the motions.We expressed our concern at the time.

Duddy :

One of the big insights in evidence based social learning approaches is that kids most often need environmental interventions much more than "talking interventions". If talking is boring and critical then there's little motivation to participate. Let me find you some links.

Duddy :

I'm going to really have to research this for you. A brief search is not doing it. I'll get back to you here first thing Sunday morning.

Customer:

Thank you.

Duddy :

Ok. I've done lots of online research. It's hard to find quality, evidence-based parenting advice sites. Here are a few that you might find helpful. The Online Parenting Coach is a pretty good blog site with lots of helpful information. The Total Transformation Program is very good also, you may want to explore trying it for free and then purchasing it if it's helpful. I'll also provide some links to some books that I think will be very helpful to you. Some may look overly technical but they're not that hard to read. One is about foster parenting, but that's where some of the best available parenting research is done, so it's highly relevant here. I've also included some good evidence-based parenting books that are really simple to read and understand :

Duddy :

http://www.onlineparentingcoach.com/

Duddy :

http://www.thetotaltransformation.com/

Duddy :

If you consider seeing a therapist again with your son, I'd try to find a therapist with experience in "functional family therapy" or multi-systemic therapy. Although these therapists and the vast evidence-base they work with is usually applied for the management of much more serious emotional and behavioral problems than dishonesty the parenting principals are incredibly valuable:

Duddy :

http://tinyurl.com/6gndnwg

Duddy :

http://www.fftinc.com/

Duddy :

http://mstservices.com/

Duddy :

http://tinyurl.com/6lfo5bf

Duddy :

http://tinyurl.com/6dpu6mr

Duddy :

Here's a great book by one of the leading evidence-based parenting researchers in the world. Recently she's focused on treatment foster care but the social-learning approach is wonderful:

Duddy :

http://tinyurl.com/6xal8c8

Duddy :

Well I'm pretty sure I've answered your question and provided you with some behavior science-based resources that would be helpful to any parent facing the situation you've described and beyond. Make sure to check your local library for the same authors and books so you don't have to buy them. I've also found that the leaders of the evidence-based parenting areas are very responsive to e-mail questions, so you can go right to the source if you need to.

Duddy :

You mentioned seeing a psychologist. If you seek that kind of help again I'd try to make sure they work with the treatment and intervention approaches I've outlined, (behavioral and social learning based). Again, for kids, the evidence shows that positive environmental changes are often much more helpful then talk-counseling to help them make better important behavior choices. Talking can make the environmental intervention even more effective if it's properly linked.

Duddy :

Please don't forget to press the green "Accept" button if you're satisfied with my answer. If you feel I've missed something, please let me know and I'll do my best to further clarify.

Duddy :

I wish you and your family the very best, XXXXX XXXXX

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