Excuse Me, But Your Pants Are On Fire

At four years and eight months, Eddie told a lie.

His first as far as we know.

He lied about finishing his chicken at dinner so he could be done and play Super Mario Bros.  He got up from the table, brought his plate to the counter next to the sink, and went to sit on the couch as we finished up.

Cortney saw it first because I was still sitting at the table so that Charlie wouldn’t be left alone.

“Ed, why is there still chicken on your plate?”

Eddie’s eyes got huge. His face dropped in extreme disappointment. He was caught. And he felt terrible.

He began to cry huge apologetic tears.

“I’m so sorry I lied to you!” he bellowed as he walked into the kitchen, took his plate from the counter, carried it back to his seat, sat down, and sadly ate every last piece of chicken. “I will never ever lie again! I am so sorry!”

We hadn’t said a word.

Later that night at bedtime, of course, he apologized again.  I never doubted his remorse.

And then today (Sunday) it happened again.

We were having lunch at Cortney’s sister and brother-in-law’s house to celebrate their youngest’s baptism. Eddie wanted another slice of cheese, but Cortney had told him he first needed to finish his piece of ham.

Eddie made big announcements that he had finished it and he could now have more cheese and would we please bring him more cheese.

Cortney brought him more cheese, just to find out Eddie had hid  his ham in his hands.

Tonight we had a discussion about truthfulness and honesty at dinner.  He told us that “bad guys tell lies,” so we asked him if he thought of himself as a bad guy.

“NO!” he said.

“We don’t think you’re a bad guy either, Eddie. You are our kind, helpful, Eddie.  And you’re a Sluiter.  Sluiters are honest.  Do you know why?”


“Because we love each other and we love others. Lying hurts people. We don’t want to hurt people.”

“Ok, mom.”

And we left it at that.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s his way of feeling around for being independent–trying out being his own person.

We need him to do that. It’s important he learns the difference between honesty and lying. And it’s important that we get to be the ones to talk to him about it.

But oh my heart. I don’t feel like I am ready for this.

I’m just not ready for my Best Eddie to tell me untruths. I’m just not prepared for him to begin hurting my heart one hidden piece of ham at a time.

2013-07-04 20.41.37

Do you have experience with this? How do you talk about the importance of honesty with your kids?

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I think my oldest is the queen of lying. Too bad her dad’s a cop and can read her like a book. One of my twins has started with the lying. It’s driving me bonkers. I just keep reminding myself of the article I read a couple years ago. Kids who lie the most (and face consequences), grow up to be adults with amazing imaginations. They’re the innovators of tomorrow. At least I keep telling myself. I’m pretty sure Leia will do great things, whether she’ll use her powers for good or evil is still up in the air.

    • that is so interesting about having great imaginations as adults. What do you do when your kids lie? Do you punish or do you discuss or both?

      • My oldest has a more severe punishment because it’s a constant battle. Time outs, loss of stones (reward jar). We also talk to her and explain that lies hurt and we can’t trust her if she lies. I explain that she misses out on activities is I can’t trust her to do the right thing and tell me the truth. We also have heart to hearts with the twins about lying and trust and all that. It depends on what they were lying about. If it was lying to avoid punishment, they usually get in more trouble for the lie. It’s hard though.

  2. Oh I don’t know, Katie! My boys are still too young, but I’ll probably feel the way you do now. When you figure it out, let me know?

  3. Lying is a tricky one. My kids have both done it and occasionally do. I’m never sure whether it makes a difference if it’s a “white” lie or not (is there even such a thing?). My son lied about flossing his teeth last week (when I proved to him that he didn’t, since there was no floss in the garbage can..) and yes we have a talk about it when it happens, but they usually can’t even say why they lied. Sigh.

    • so did you punish your son for lying about the flossing, or did you let it go, or talk about it? I am curious as to how parents handle the lying.

      • I did not punish him. We talked about it and I made him explain why it is wrong and he felt really silly about it – because it was over floss…. I was tempted to tell him that if he chooses to lie, then at least do a good one, but of course that would be very wrong…
        After we talked about it, I let it go.

  4. I’m with Kerstin. Usually, it’s not a purposeful lie with my kids, at least the younger two. The older one at 13 has more of a grasp of consequences but tends to be honest to a fault, even when we’re looking at her like dummy, I totally would have tried to lie my way out of that one. My middle daughter, though, lies immediately. It’s her instinct, I think, and there’s no purpose to it. Did you brush your teeth? Yes. Why is your toothbrush dry? I don’t know. Did you put on lotion? Yes. Why do your legs LOOK LIKE YOU’VE BEEN BASKING IN FLOUR? Z, at 4, tends to say he simply doesn’t want to finish his food rather than yes, I ate it all. To him “all” means “enough.” We discuss it, but we don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m more concerned with the 10 year old who tends to use lying as a fail safe but even then, she gets so apologetic and it’s like um, just say no, I’ll go do it now.

  5. Oh yes. We had this phase with Cady and it was BAD. She finally broke when she realized what losing trust meant. She will still exaggerate a story to the point of almost untruth, but I’ve gotten better about calling her on it and she has gotten better about doing it.

    • I may have been that child who exaggerated stories beyond recognition. Cort STILL has to reel me in sometimes and call me out on things. Also hyperbole is my favorite. ahem.

  6. We are still in the new stages of lying here too. It is hard to know what to do about it, especially when we are only PRETTY SURE that he’s told a lie instead of definitely sure. He mostly lies about why his brother is crying (which is usually his fault).

    • and this is where I admit that Charlie bullies Eddie more than the other way around. Eddie is super protective of Charlie–that’s not to say they don’t fight–but if Charlie is crying, it’s usually a freak out on Charlie’s part and not Eddie’s fault. If it is, Eddie is pretty quick to tell us because he is usually crying too. Hurting his brother sort of kills him. So far.

  7. Hiding his ham in his hands. Oh, that is almost too sweet.

    We have lying. Usually it’s a mask for laziness. “Did you clean the bathroom?” “Yes.” “Then why is the bathroom still dirty?” ::stomping off to clean the bathroom::

    Usually the biggest consequence of lying is that they are caught. My thing is: if they know right from wrong, and right is desired, the lie will be corrected. We’ve taught them about right vs. wrong, and it sounds like Eddie knows, too. So far, so good.

    • So far, getting caught is Eddie’s consequence too. And yes, the ham in the hands…he clearly doesn’t even know HOW to lie yet. You are clearly going to get caught if it’s just in your hands, friend. Eddie knows it’s wrong to tell untruths. I think he’s just testing to see if it works, ya know?

  8. Mine didn’t tend to do this really – past the first few feeble attempts. honestly – they are just sooooo bad at it. they cannot look me in the eye — or they pause and say “weeeeelllllll…” um, busted kid. sure sign right there. LOL
    hopefully they will not learn to be better at it.
    I think this is one time when having kids who are natural people pleasers, comes in very handy.

  9. We approached in the same way. Although my middle child “fibs” ALL THE TIME. It’s like a habit for him. ARGH.

    I used to make up lies when I was a kid to get attention. Almost like stories. I remember when my Mom caught me in one, after telling one of my little friends something that was SO untrue like that we were French or something and that I was going to Paris (see, I had this dream early on…ha!) Not saying that your guy is trying to get attention but I know some kids do it for that reason. Anyway, I think you handled it well and no, I no longer lie. Well unless I tell the kids a little white lie here and there. Oh crap, I guess I do! ha! 😉

  10. We have had the lying make appearances here. We just approach it with talking and disappointment and then follow through with whatever can be fixed or finished – whether it is chores or eating or washing. So far that has been enough that it has never become a regular thing.

  11. Lying is so tricky! We’ve dealt with it, for sure. We always have a talk about it and if it serious, we make a distinction that they are being punsihed for disobeying, but that we appreciate that they ended up telling the truth. For example, if I ask one of the kids if they broke a toy and they say, “No,” but we strongly suspect that they did, we will have them sit next to us and I usually say something like, “I’m not sure you are telling me the truth. So we are going to sit here until you are ready to tell me what really happened.” And then we sit. And wait. And depending on which child it is, influences just how long we sit and wait. 😉 But, once that child fesses up, we give hugs and tell them we are proud for speaking the truth (this we feel is Biblically based–think about the Prodigal Son–the Father didn’t scold, just embraced his son for repenting and wanting to be reunited with his family). We have the “I’m disappointed that you lied” talk and then they are given a punishment for breaking the toy because *that* broke the rules of using our toys wisely. So far, it seems to be working :). And, we’ve found that it is a phase…our middle child is in it now, but the oldest has been out of it for awhile. Good luck!

  12. Oh how funny! That precious picture!

    We have had slight trouble with lying with 2 of the kids, but it seems to have sorted itself out. I think it will with Eddie too.

  13. I don’t know if it’s the two kids, being so close to one-another in age, or what, but lies are just part of our life. Heck, I will WATCH CJ make a mess, and when I ask how it was made, he will point at Leila & say that she did it. And Leila will blame CJ for absolutely anything that might go wrong in her life, whether or not CJ was responsible for any of it.

    It drives me crazy.

    I’m starting timeouts for the egregious ones . . . the ones where I know the truth, but I have no idea how to combat this, ongoing, because I’m not home all of the time, and there are so many that just slide under the radar. Ugh.

    Good luck.

  14. At least he was remorseful! When I’d catch first-born in a lie, she’s just grin wickedly.