Wyatt is six. He is very energetic and at times very clever. This combination will bring him trouble in most cases. A couple months ago, after observing some very consistent behavioral patterns, we met with his teacher and his vice principle to have an intervention. We discussed a few specific problems he displays, such as not keeping his hands and feet to himself, taking off his shoes, laying down and being defiant. We weren’t totally shocked by this whole issue, but hadn’t heard much of anything up until this point. The school has a practice of keeping daily logs of his behavior.
They create a spreadsheet that focuses on one specific element of behavior. There are six boxes in which the teacher will place a check in for every 30 minutes of observed good behavior. If he does well all day, he gets six checks. If he’s not so good, he gets less. He brings this home each day for us to look at and sign. There is a reward system if he gets more than four checks in a day, the teacher awards him with some privilege or item. At home, we reward him with allowing him to play the Wii if he gets five or six checks. If he succeeds in getting six checks for three days in a row, he gets a large gift or privilege, like going to Cabela’s or Kangaroo Zoo (a bounce-house play place).
Day to day we provide feedback and praise or guidance depending on his results. Lately he’s been on and off. On Monday, he got six! This is great for a Monday as it is a shorter day and there isn’t enough day for six checks. He did really well according to his teacher’s comments. Tuesday, he got four, which meant he couldn’t play Wii. This has proven to be a pretty good punishment as it means a lot to him, especially when his mom and I play it. Yesterday, he was excited to show us he got six checks again! Incredible! I was so pleased with him. I let him play Wii and we even took him to The Mayan (an adventure themed restaurant) for dinner.
Rachel saw it just before dinner. We already had plans to go with some friends who haven’t been there yet. After closer inspection, we discovered that the first three checks looked very much like the others on the sheet, but the last three weren’t quite the same. He forged the last three checks. We challenged him a few times and each time he denied the counterfeit checks. He gave his little “I’m totally lying” sheepish grin too. After some more grilling and threats, he folded. He promptly was given three swats on the behind and the knowledge that there would be a major punishment coming down.
After dinner, we were driving home and after some thought, I remembered something that one of his classmates that also attends the daycare he goes to after school, where I pick him up from, she said in a very tattle-taley manner that he only got three checks today. I thought that was annoying. But I checked his sheet there and saw the six. She also started to tell on him about something else bad Wyatt did and I stopped her saying that being a tattle-tale is rude. After I considered this info, I asked Wyatt if it was his idea or did someone else tell or dare him to do it. He said that it was someone else. I asked who and he said it was this girl who was tattling on him earlier.
Great. This does not remove his responsibility because he did it and lied about it. But I got some small amount of relief just knowing it didn’t originate inside my son’s own head. We’ve had issues before with him doing things due to peer pressure and dares. It had been awhile since hearing about anything like it though.
At this point he is grounded from the Wii TFN and has to confess/apologize to his teacher. He also is grounded to his bedroom until it is completely cleaned. He has no TV, computer, movie or iPod privileges until it’s clean.
What should we do? How do we stem this tide of dishonesty? His lying has been escalating a lot lately and our punishments don’t seem to be effective. We’ve done soap in the mouth and hot sauce (Tabasco) on his tongue. We’ve done the Jesus is crying guilt trip. We’ve read the scripture that says the liar will be thrust to hell. He is so young and so sweet. His heart is bigger than most people I know. He has this inner light that just shines. I don’t want that to fade. What are we missing?