Help Me Be Good

My sweet beautiful Riley has entered the lying and tattling phase. Quite normal I'm sure for a 5 year old, yet extremely annoying nonetheless. The tattling is constant; morning, noon, and night, with all of it revolving around her little sister. She acts like the new sheriff in town, a mini-mom per se, reporting every little tidbit Sheridan does throughout the day. We can't go more than 10 minutes without hearing the following...

"Mom, Sheridan put the crayons on the floor"
"Mom, Sheridan is annoying me"
"Mom, Sheridan touched the TV"
"Mom, Sheridan is laying on Libby"
"Mom, Sheridan stuck her hands in her underwear"
"Mom, Sheridan is ripping the coloring book"
"Mom, Sheridan is trying to unlock the garage door"
"Mom, Sheridan is riding my bike and I want to ride it"
"Mom, Sheridan wants to watch Nemo and I want to watch The Music Man"
"Mom, Sheridan took my pink cup and gave me the blue one"
"Mom, Sheridan didn't hang the towel back on the hook"
"Mom, Sheridan is splashing water out of the tub"
"Mom, Sheridan is touching me and I don't want her to"

After hearing this ALL....DAY....LONG... I go a little stir crazy. Wonder why I'm going gray? I try to let them work it out themselves as attempting to correct any of Sheridan's behavior proves quite futile. Most of what Sheridan is doing is just annoying, it's not destructive and not worth getting upset. And since Riley is reporting back to me no less than 30 - 40 times a day, I'd end up spending most of my free time disciplining.

The lying part, well that's something I'm trying to work on with her and nip it in the bud ASAP. None of the lies are destructive or life threatening, they're all little white lies. But they're beginning to increase in frequency, almost every day now, with most of them again revolving around her little sister. Some of her fibs have been ...

* She pushed her sister off the couch and then when I ask her if she really did it her response was, "I promise I didn't do it... I'm NOT lying". Her friend who was over saw it and ratted her out.
* She'll tell me Sheridan made a mess (to get her in trouble) when really she did it herself.
* She'll break something and then tell me that Sheridan did it.
* When I ask her to do something such as wash her hands before lunch, make her bed, put her toys away, put her clothes in her hamper, she'll tell me that she did it, but when I check up on her, it's not done. She will then tell me that I'm wrong, she did do it, and that she's not lying. Of course not.

A few weeks ago I began talking to a some girlfriends with daughters around the same age, and asking if any of them are going through similar situations. One of them said she had recently been in my shoes, and that she had a 29 book series on manners titled, "Help Me Be Good" that I was welcome to borrow. Great idea. I had wanted to order a few books recently, but due to our upcoming departure I didn't want to have anything sent here as it's more stuff to schlep back to California in 3 weeks. So I went to her house and took a look at what she had. The series of Joy Berry books include topics such as Being Messy, Tattling, Being Destructive, Jealousy, Lying, Cheating, Being Careless, Lazy, and my personal favorite on Whining. I could have taken the entire series back to the house, but as we were pressed for time, I only took four: Being Destructive (this one was for Sheridan), Whining (for both of them), and on Lying and Tattling (both exclusively for Riley). The girls were very excited to read these books as they had heard the one on Obeying at our friend's house earlier that day.

We waited for daddy to get home and then we sat down on the bed and read a book to each of them as their bedtime stories. We started with the one on Tattling, and after reading it discussed with Riley what is acceptable to tell us and what isn't, when she can come and tattle on her sister, and when she needs to just leave it alone. She obviously understood the concepts as when we were discussing how she wasn't being helpful she was trying to get her sister in trouble, she cried. I immediately became giddy. Fantastic! We got through to her. We helped her see the error in her ways! However, her tears were short lived when she saw the next book on Being Destructive. "Oh mom, this one is definitely for Sheridan." It's as if in 20 seconds she completely forget what we had just read. Throughout the book Riley pointed out ways that Sheridan related to the character in the book; she too was always ruining stuff and was completely destructive. Tattling again perhaps? Oh no, just pointing out the obvious. We tried to discuss this book with Sheridan, but she was more interested in ripping the book out of our hands, and throwing her baby off the bed. Think we got through?

We figured that we'd wait until the next night to tackle the other two books that I borrowed, as our first attempt at helping the girls understand about manners didn't quite go over as planned. I thought I'd probably have to re-read the book on Tattling with Riley several more times before it truly sunk in, and at least a dozen more times before Sheridan understood the ways she was Being Destructive. But as we walked out of the room I was left with one statement from Riley, "Hey mom, tomorrow night let's read Sheridan the book about Whining."

I don't quite think she grasped the concepts.


karey m. said...

do you know the five most often words spoken in our flat? besides the ones floating 'round my head that i'd love to say?


no tattling in our house. evah.

now, lies? hmmm.

Unknown said...

We used those books too! EVERY night!

C.C. said...

I just spent two days substitute teaching in a kindergarten class. If those little ones are any indication then tattling, lying, whining (oh, and crying over every slight, perceived and real) are all part of the wonderful 5-year-old package! The good news is, it's a phase and she will outgrow it. If my 7-year-old is any indication, your daughter will be talking nonstop, being contrary and negotiating everything very soon! Good luck!

Jill said...

I just bought the series of books off eBay last week and had them sent to my in-laws. Guess what we'll be reading this entire summer!

Anonymous said...

HA! My cheeks hurt from grinning at this. The end is priceless. God, I love the way kids think.

Thanks for this, I needed it.

Mike said...

My parents read Joy’s books to me when I was a kid. I liked them then and wanted to have them with my own kids. I only found used copies and incomplete series until a friend turned me on to her new website http://www.joyberrybooks.com. I just purchased the Teach Me About series for my kids and can’t wait to read the books to them.

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