Many parents become undone when a child lies to them. Projecting in the future, parents fear that deceit will become habitual and last into adulthood. Yet kids lie for many different reasons. Some kinds of dishonesty are developmentally normal, and call for a measured response. It helps to understand the reason a child is lying in order to come up with an appropriate way to encourage their moral development.
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This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
Ever since Bill Milliken, a Christian minister working with at-risk youth in New York’s lower East Side, wrote a book in 1968 by the title, Tough Love, the phrase he coined has caught on like hot cakes. It is used by people in the field of education, by addiction programs, by parenting counselors, by sports coaches, even by legislators making policy about food stamps and social welfare. Yet as Milliken recently acknowledges, the concept has been used to justify disciplinary programs that are harsh, even abusive. Yet much truth resides in his concept, and one that parents can learn and grow from in ways that will positively affect their children.
Spring is here and high school juniors are just now finding letters in their mailboxes that tell them whether a college has accepted them for their incoming freshman class. For many students, an acceptance letter allows them to breathe a huge sigh of relief, not only because they now know where they will wind up, but also because it signifies that the year of applying to college, froth with anxiety, trepidation, self-doubt and possibly tension between them and parents or teachers, is now over. For some students the application process is particularly difficult and stressful – for those who have learning disabilities, or executive functioning deficits, or social anxiety, or performance anxiety, or fear of separation from their parents – the list goes on. And what child doesn’t have some kind of challenge? After all, growing up means that they aren’t there yet.
We love our children dearly, and they also make us furious. We may find ourselves angrier at the things our children do, whether they are two or seventeen, than we can remember feeling towards anyone else. And yet we know that forcefully expressing this anger rarely helps a situation. Feelings escalate, until everyone becomes more upset. Not much learning takes place. We tell ourselves over and over not to get mad, but sometimes the feelings well up and we feel helpless to our own explosion. Yet the level of anger we experience is directly related to the depth of our love and concern for our children.
Every parent’s number one responsibility is to keep their child safe. Since pictures of missing children began to first appear on milk containers in the 1980’s, parents .have responded by teaching their children about “stranger danger.” Many children are instructed from a very early age not to talk to strangers. Yet the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), whose photos of lost children appear on milk containers, believes that this message is both insufficient and counterproductive in keeping children safe. NCMEC and other child safety professionals do not support the message of “stranger danger” for the following reasons: [Read more…]