Our little Mr. Baseball has been experimenting with the truth lately--trying out different versions, seeing which he can get away with--and the QB and I aren't exactly sure what to do. He hasn't said or done anything really horrible, but he has on a number of occasions chosen to tell flat-out lies (as in "Yes Dad I put my clothes away and flushed the toilet," when he did neither, or "My teacher said I had to bring my gloves to school," when she never actually did or "I didn't do anything to Nolan" when, of course, he did. On top of that, he has begun "sneaking" things here and there.
So while I'm not really concerned about the lying turning into anything systemic or problematic in any long-term way, I am groping for a short-term solution the problem that will also serve as a reminder for him down the road. Tonight he lied about putting his clothes away presumably because he wanted to stay downstairs and start playing Legos rather than running all the way back upstairs to take care of his clothes. So it seemed like a fair consequence for lying about something in order to play with a particular toy would be to make that toy off limits for a while. But at the same time it seems like that ytpe of privilege withholding does not work very effectively with him. He just gets angry and then convinces himself he didn't want whatever we took away ("Fine!" he shouts. "I don't ever want to play Legos again anyway").
So the question is, how do you help a five-year-old learn that lying is not an appropriate way of communicating, even if it might help you avoid work, or avoid getting into trouble or avoid doing something you don't want to do?
Tonight, I tried reaching him through the medium he most appreciates--bed time stories. He almost always asks for some kind of super hero story (usually Batman or Spiderman) so I told him a Spiderman story straight out of the real Spider man story about Peter Parker lying to his uncle about going to the library and how his uncle was shot during a carjacking all because Peter Parker lied. It was a little morbid, but his eyes got really big and I wanted him to say something like "All that just because Spiderman lied?" but instead he just looked at me funny and I'm not sure he got the moral of the story at all.
That is another problem with trying to teach moral lessons to concrete thinking five-year-olds who just don't get metaphor, symbolism, or the nuances of allegory. How do you help a kid grasp a concept like honesty and truth when to them, the truth includes, among other things, the reality of Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and the deep and abiding friendship of a ratty stuffed animal named Doggy?