>>I have been dealing with a situation for a long time now and am out of ideas as how to handle it. This morning I gave up and just started yelling at my kid, and I know that is NOT the solution. My 3 year old wakes up at 5 am and gets into the cabinets and eats all the candy. That upset me but it seems normal enough, so i threw out the candy. hes been doing that for weeks with different treats, and I have been getting angrier and angrier that he isnt following my directions. But what really really gets me upset is when he lies to me and tells me that he didnt eat it. I was fuming this morning because he lied to me on 3 different counts.
I am at loss as what to do. I am trying to teach him to tell the truth but even as I do that he is lying!
What should i do?
It sounds so silly but I feel like every morning is ruined because i am stuck disciplining him first thing in the morning when i should be giving him love!<<
First of all, take a deep breath and a step back. Sometimes we get so caught up with issues in front of us that they look much bigger than they are. Kids take treats without permission and it’s really normal. He wants sweet stuff and so he takes it. As adults, we get to eat what we want, when we want, but kids don’t have that kind of independence. Think how hard it would be if you really wanted a chocolate bar and your husband refused to let you have one – isn’t it possible you’d try to get it when he wasn’t around? I remember when my oldest was five, seeing him cramming a handful of sugar into his mouth just as I came into the kitchen – I was appalled. But most of my kids at a young age (and sometimes even not such a young age) have done something similar. Just an hour before I got this question, ds5 notified me that he found a date pit behind the bathroom door, where ds3 apparently went to eat it without being seen after helping himself from the cabinet.
Often the reason we’re getting upset isn’t the circumstance itself, but our interpretation of the situation. When you tell yourself he’s lying, that creates a lot of negative emotion for a parent. I don’t see something like this from a three year old as lying; small children have a very flexible sense of reality. By shifting the perspective on what he’s doing, we can remove a lot of the negative emotion that is behind our excessive anger.
It might be helpful to see if you can find a solution to the need that’s being expressed. Would it be helpful to create a predictable routine around when he gets special foods? Maybe you can work out something with him as to so he knows when he’ll get treats – like make a regular time each day that he gets something special (it can be something healthy if that’s a concern – a fruit, popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, homemade baked goods), and let him take it out when it’s time to eat. Since he’s taking things so early in the morning, perhaps the night before the two of you can prepare something that you can leave on the table, covered, for him to eat when he wakes up. Make a big deal of how special this is, how he’s such a big boy that you know he can serve himself this food even before you’re awake. Be very careful to keep this positive; don’t bring up his past ‘sins’ or make him feel guilty or defensive.
If you see him taking something he shouldn’t, try saying something like this, “That looks really yummy, doesn’t it? I bet you wish you could eat a hundred pieces! Yum! That would be so tasty! But I think if I ate a hundred pieces my tummy would be sick. Do you think your tummy would feel good if you ate so much?” The point isn’t the words you use, but the message behind it – to show him that you understand him and aren’t blaming him, because he’s going to feel trapped and guilty if you catch him doing something that he already knows you disapprove of. The question at the end isn’t to get an answer as much as to move away from the situation, to give him a way to save face and maneuver out of a potentially sticky situation.