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When a Child Lies

Sometimes young children tell bafflingly obvious lies.(As we get older, we get better at it. =)). For example, a gem reader recently said,

"My child looked directly at me with legos in his hands and said, 'I am getting dressed!'"

Lying, like any other behavior, is an expression of feelings and needs.The trick here is putting your giraffe* ears on in the face of something that triggers your conditioning around your need for honesty.

If you can first respond to the feelings and needs the child is trying to express, you can come back later and help them learn to express with honesty.

Let's respond to the child with the legos.It is a busy week day morning with parents getting ready for work and kids getting ready for school.This is the third time you have asked your 8 year old son to get dressed.That's when he looks at you as he is sitting on the floor in his pajamas with legos in his hands and says, "I am getting dressed!"

At this point you can show that because you are bigger and have more authority you can push him around. You can swoop down grab the legos and say in an angry voice, "Move it mister!"I have found myself in this behavior more than once.It is easy to fall into.This is the way most of us grew up.

It takes an incredible shift in paradigm to resist this flow of conditioning and hear your son saying, "Mom, I am stressed out and need some support not more directives."When you can hear this, responding in a compassionate respectful way becomes obvious.Instead you take 3 or 4 minutes and sit down on the floor with your son:

Mom:"Feeling stressed out this morning and wanting to take it easy?"

Son:"Yea, mom, you are always yelling at me."

Mom:"You'd like a little more gentleness in your morning?"

Son:"Yea, I just want to play then get dressed."

Mom:"I am guessing it's hard to set down your legos once you are playing."


Mom:"Yea, sometimes I have a hard time getting off the computer when I need to go somewhere.I set a timer for myself.Would it help if I set a timer for you with getting dressed?"

Son:"It might."

Mom:"Okay, we'll try it.I'll do that tomorrow.Right now we are running late so how about if I help you put the legos away."


In the typical life of schedules and commitments it is easy to get caught up in the anxiety of being on time and making things go a certain way.In the consciousness of Nonviolent Communication, you come back to the most important thing - the quality of connection you create with yourself and others in the moment.This quality of connection, moment by moment, is what builds loving strong relationships.Loving strong relationships are the foundation of a satisfying life.

This week notice moments where you are sacrificing the quality of connection with yourself or others to get to the next thing.Take a breath into your belly and remember what is most deeply important in your life.

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Expressing the Aliveness of a Need
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Empathy Without Words

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