Monday, January 9, 2012

I totally used a Mormon ad for discipline

My 5 year old son, the whippersnapper, has been doing that thing kids do when they reach a certain age of awareness...and no, I'm not talking about messing around with his business (he's already discovered that). I'm talking lying.

The whipsnap has begun outright lying when asked if he's done something. Now, I should know better than to ask--especially when I can tell he's lying. But sometimes I genuinely don't know what happened--even if he lies about it. Example: is that water on the couch pillow, or did you wipe your nose on it?

It struck me the other day that I no longer trust the whipsnap because he lies almost every time he tells me something. It wasn't a good feeling, but it was true--I have lost trust in him. I've tried threatening that I always know when he's lying. I've tried explaining that owning up to something you did is easier and faster. I've tried changing my language to not use the word "lie" and focus on the positive ("Why don't you go back and use soap this time" vs. "Did you use soap? Don't lie about not using soap.")

Nothing worked. Until I remembered that awesome ad from the 1980s from the Mormons, or Church of Latter day Saints (LDS) as they like to be called. Do you remember the one? It's about the boy playing ball and he breaks a neighbor's window, and it's Mr. Robinson and he goes "Whooo broke my window?" and they sing a magnificent and rather catchy song about telling the truth and how it's so much better. It starred Alfonso Ribeiro (who must have been highly impressed by the experience since he went on to play Carlton Banks with such squeaky clean aplomb). Remember? Here:

So, I told the whipsnap the story of a boy playing ball. I made it all dramatic, and made Mr. Robinson quite upset, and even spoke the lines of the song. The whippersnapper was enthralled. I had his attention. I described the boy coming forward and saying, "I broke your window with my ball, and I've come to confess." And then how the boy still had to pay for the window, but he felt better inside, and Mr. Robinson was so happy that the boy told the truth. Turns out, those LDS folks knew what they were doing with that. It was hugely effective, and made a big impression on the whipsnap--without even having seen the ad!

Later, when I asked him if he'd used soap when washing his hands (he hadn't, he'd been in the bathroom 2 seconds), he automatically said "yes." I reminded him how the boy who broke the window felt better for telling the truth and the whipsnap said, "No, I didn't use soap." I praised him for telling me, and then directed him to use soap.

God, this childrearing business is tiring and difficult. Good thing there are old Mormon church ads as parenting aids out there. I'm just wondering how the Schoolhouse rock "I'm Just a Bill" ad will translate?


Teri Anne Stanley said...

wow, I wish I'd remembered that one when the Bearded Wonder was but a Whippersnapper!

My kids are, however, fully indoctrinated by School House Rock.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Okay I totally need to remember this tip... Anythoughts on how I can translate this to more 'girl language'? The Irish Lass is about the same age as your Whippersnapper and I need to teach her before her brother catches on (though he probably already has, seeing how well they can play together). Some one save me fromt he teen years! :}

*giggles and grins*
:} Cathryn

Sierra Gardner said...

That's great that it helped! It's so hard sometimes to figure out what will work, and just when you have something down another kid comes along who needs something different.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Boyohboy, I sure don't miss the child-rearing days. If you've never seen it, I recommend Bill Cosby's old video called "Himself." He thoroughly debunks the statement about how kids are "so truthful", and makes a case for the fact that all kids, in fact, have "brain damage." Doesn't solve your child-rearing problems, but it sure makes you laugh at them, and also reassures you that you aren't alone.

Christine Tyler said...

I'm Mormon and I've never seen this video, hahaha! My mom did tell me the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, though. That was terrifying and effective. When I was about 16 I saw Gulliver's Travel's with Ted Danson, and I was so impressed with the dialogue about honesty when Gulliver was among the Houyhnhms, I decided to never lie again. Other than exaggerations in storytelling, and what people are getting for Christmas, it's kept me steady ever since.

Sarah Allen said...

Ok, ok, so I'm Mormon, but this made me smile so hard. Thanks for sharing :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Sierra Godfrey said...

Christine and Sarah, was this awesome ad not part of required teaching growing up?!? My goodness. Thanks for weighing in :)

Susan, Thanks for the recommendation--I'll check that Bill Cosby video out.

Sierra (not myself) - you're right, each kid is different--I need to go scour old ads to see what will work on Rainbow Puppy!

Cathryn, just change the girl to the boy! (And teach her that girls can play destructive street ball too!)

Teri - yes, School House Rock is a staple of parenting :)

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