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10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

10 Lies Parents Tell A Lot but Never Notice

Parents all lie to their kids every day, they just don’t realise it. You may tell your child not to lie, but continually saying these lies, no matter how small teaches them to lie as well. They will think it is ok to lie, since Mommy and Daddy lie.

As a parent, I totally understand sometimes we lie to protect our kids, we love them so much that we don’t want them to get hurt. However, I came to realise that lying actually does no good to our kids, it will only back-fire and turn our kids into liars. That’s obviously not what we want so we need to stop doing that and be true to both ourselves and our kids.

Some of the Everyday Lies Parents Tell Unconsciously

Here are some examples of lies that parents will often tell their kids, along with better solutions. These are examples to help you brain storm your own solutions to the little lies you may be telling your child on a regular basis.

1. “Santa Clause is watching you.”

Instead of threatening them with Santa not giving them gifts, take away something in the here and now so they know their behavior has immediate consequences. If they are fighting with their sister and you want the fighting to stop so you say Santa is watching (and eventually they will find out you are big fat liar on this one) have a consequence for their behavior. Have a realistic punishment like taking away electrics for a few hours or giving them a time out period. The one ask parenting method works well for siblings fighting and is explained in this article: Effective Way of Talking with Children.

2. “I will never let anything bad happen to you.”

This may be your intention, but it may not be possible. You can’t protect your child 100% of the time. Instead, use the truth, but frame it so the child does feel protected, yet aware of real dangers. Saying something like “I will always try to protect you, but there are bad people out there so that’s why I don’t want you to wander away from me in a store, as there are kids that are taken from their Mommies and Daddies. I am here to protect you, but if you wander away, then I am not there and you could be putting yourself in danger”. It may be scary, but its also a truthful reality. You don’t want to cause them any undue anxiety, so choose your words carefully. Let them know although kidnappings are rare, it is still something all kids and parents should be aware of, so that they are cautious of strangers when out it public.

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3. “The park is closed.”

You know very well the park is open, but you don’t have time to take the kids to the park because you have errands to run. Instead of lying, be honest. “Mommy can’t take you to the park today because we have to get groceries for the week so we can have meals and I have some other important errands that have to be done today.” They may whine and complain, but that’s ok, they will learn the reality of life is that they can’t have everything that they want all the time. Telling the truth also helps make you an honest parent and not a liar, because eventually they will get old enough and realize you are lying about the park being closed.

4. “It won’t hurt, I promise”

They need to get a shot from the doctor, but they are screaming and you want the screaming to stop so they can get the shot. However, they are screaming because they know you are lying. You said it wouldn’t hurt the first time they got shots. They know better. They learned from the pain that you lied. Don’t lie. Let them know it will be a small poke, a little pain, but then its over and they get a sucker. Explain that they need the shot, for whatever health reason. Don’t be a liar. This one will quickly make you the bad guy because if you tell them it won’t hurt and hurts immensely you are the one to blame. The reality is that shots do hurt, but the pain does go away, so lead with that bit of truth and you will find them trusting you more, not less.

5. “You are the best artist, great job on your painting!”

Don’t bother praising your child when you aren’t sincere. Believe it or not, kids are not as gullible as you think. They can pick up on tone of voice, body language, and know when you aren’t completely being truthful. Instead, you can praise their creativity or the ingenuity in their work. Praise them for something you believe is true about their work and abilities, not an end product that is just mediocre.

6. “Its bed time!”

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Its only 7:30 and not really time for bed, since you know their actual bedtime is 8:00. Simple solution: “its time to start getting ready for bed”. Words matter. You may have meant that its time to get ready for bed, but what you said was that “its bedtime”. Once they begin to tell time, you want to make sure you are saying what you mean and mean what you say. Its all about maintaining the trust between you and your child. It may be a little white lie, but lies upon lies mount up to become bigger trust issues.

7. “I don’t know what happened to your artwork that was hanging on the fridge.”

You know what happened to it because you threw it away. You can’t keep every piece of artwork because you simply don’t have the space to keep all of it. The best solution is to explain this to your child. Show them the drawer or bin where you do keep the best or most meaningful pieces that they make. They can put things there if they want to make sure they are saved. If the bin gets full, then its time for them to help sort through and recycle the pieces that they no longer want to keep. This gives them responsibility over their artwork, and it also makes you an honest parent.

8. “I will be there in a minute.”

Yes, your intention is good. You do want to be there to tuck them in or to help them with their project or whatever it may be. However, you are paying bills and want to finish up what you are doing. Then tell them just that. Tell them that you need to finish paying bills and then you can come to help them. Don’t lie by saying it is a minute, because it may be longer, and the more the time passes before you come to them then the more it makes you out to be a liar. Avoid the lie, by simply telling the truth and being specific.

9. “I am going to leave this house without you.”

Instead of using a scare tactic, use specific and realistic consequences to move them into action. You can say “if you don’t have your shoes on and are ready to get into the car within 5 minutes, then you will lose your TV privileges for the evening.” Be sure to follow through with the consequences every time. You will find you have a child who listens to you because of what you say, not because they are scared into action, but because your words have weight.

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10. “We don’t have enough money to xxx.”

Instead of lying, explain it to your child on their level. Tell them you all want to go on vacation so we can’t go to the movies and sometimes do other things.  Help them understand that sometimes to do something really special and fun, it involves sacrifice. Not only are you teaching them a valuable life lesson, but you are also not making yourself a liar.

Compared to lying, knowing the truth is the best way for your kids to learn and grow

1. Learning about the consequences of bad behavior is the quickest way to correct them.

If your child throws a fit at the checkout every time you go shopping because they want candy so you say “I will get it for you next time”, you are setting yourself up for failure in the future. Eventually the child will realize you say this every time so they will continue throwing fits and their behavior can escalate.

Be honest, and have consequences for their fit throwing. With this in mind you need to have a solution ready for the next time you are at the checkout. Perhaps before you enter the store you have a chat with your child on their level explaining that fit throwing will not be accepted.

Let your child know there is a specific punishment if a fit is thrown in the store, such as no TV time for the rest of that day. They may still throw the fit, but when you follow through with that punishment they will learn quickly that their actions do have consequences, because you will follow through on your word. Your words have the power to make you a parent who is trustworthy or not and the development of this trust starts during early childhood.

2. It’s better to learn from honest comments than to avoid disappointments.

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It is better to be honest and disappoint your child and they perhaps suffer small disappointments along the way, rather than damaging the relationship you have with that child long term. Trust is the foundation of that long term relationship. When you miss your child’s soccer game because you were having dinner with a friend and the game slipped your mind. Instead of being honest you tell your child “I am sorry I had to miss the soccer game, I had an important work meeting I couldn’t miss”.

These are the sort of white lies that create distrust over time, as the child will figure things out and realize you are lying. Perhaps you run into that friend with your child and they say how great it was to have that meal together and catch up. Your child now knows you lied. You are caught. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell the truth? Of course, so make it a habit of telling the truth even if it may be slightly uncomfortable or painful for you or the child. Trust is the most important foundation in the relationship, so don’t damage it when you can simply be honest and truthful in all things.

You should have simply told your child “I am so sorry I didn’t make it to the game, I was having dinner with a friend and I simply forgot about the game. I will make an effort to be at the next one because I feel bad I missed the game”. Being truthful is always best. You gain credibility with your honesty, even if you are admitting a fault. Psychology Today discussed this topic of parents lying to avoid disappointment and stated the following:

The reality is that children can deal with almost any disappointment if provided parental support. It works the other way as well whereby if children are repeatedly lied to by parents they begin to doubt and distrust even the simplest realities.

Be honest, don’t lie, as it damages the child’s ability to trust you in the future. Little trust leads to bigger trust. If your child can’t trust you in the small issues, how are they going to trust you with the big issues, such as drug use or sex. All parents want their children to have open lines of communication and trust with their child, but many greatly diminish that trust relationship during early childhood because of the little lies told during those formative years.

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Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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