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Kids and liars

Sending communication home about a student’s behaviour is not a favourite activity of any teacher. Where I work, if you’re hearing from me about behaviour it’s usually fairly low level, classroom issues (Admin take care of the more serious incidents). And the purpose of my emails or phone calls is usually … I thought you should know.

Responses to these messages generally fall into four categories:

The Acknowledger: Thanks for letting us know …

The Defender: Well, we’ve never had this trouble before …

The Accuser: Ever since they’ve started hanging around with that other kid …

The Divulger: Let me explain my life to this point through this email …

I’ve learned to understand each of these responses for what they are – parents doing their best. The one response that does irk me though is the one that ends with – my child says they didn’t do it.

Look, I have nothing to gain by making anything up. If I’m bothering to contact you it’s because I, or someone else has witnessed your child do something. I’ve then followed up with them and other students – your child has admitted their part with whatever I’m telling you. I’ve then consulted a member of the Admin team and we’ve agreed on a course of action resulting in my correspondence. This took me time. It likely cost learning time in class. I’m telling you because I think you should know.

Your child is lying to you.

They are lying to you because you love them. And they love that you love them. And they don’t want that to change. They don’t want you to think less of them, or to be disappointed in them, and so they bend the truth. Perhaps they’ll changed their story to paint themselves in slightly better light. Maybe they’ll try and deflect to other students (‘Sam told me to do it’, or ‘Well, Sam did it too and he didn’t get in trouble’).

The thing to remember as a parent is not to dwell on that your child got in trouble or made a mistake, but that this is an opportunity for you to show your child how to deal with mistakes. And, that even though they did make a mistake, that you will still love them unconditionally. They are kids. They are going to stuff up from time to time – it’s the nature of growing up. Help them, guide them – unconditionally. So that the next time, they feel like they can tell you the truth, regardless of the mistake. Remember, as they get older, the mistakes may get bigger - you'll want them to tell you the truth.

Yes, there is likely more to the story. And yes, I want to continue to communicate with you around this concern but, the next time (or first time) you receive correspondence from a teacher about your child’s behaviour, ask yourself – what’s more likely here? Is it that my child is learning to deal with conflicts, socialisation and growing up? Or that this teacher is lying?

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