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Anyone have any thoughts on this? I observed Bella - 6 years old. Playing with children. This was all in the time frame of 30 minutes.

  • Sophia accidentally brushes her lightly on the arm. She said loudly, Sophia hit me.
  • While Bella was coloring 12 month old baby gently with flat palm of hand touched her hair. She again loudly said, Evie pulled my hair.
  • Then the kids were playing tag, when she got tagged she yelled, Tony is hitting me.

My step daughter (has two kids of her own) is engaged to Bella's father and I am concerned as if she is like this at 6 what other lies is she going to tell when she is 14. They say she does this all the time (school/home) - it is a problem but stumped as what to do. Apparently, her mother is like this too. Poor thing, no one in the family wants to play with her now (we have a lot of grand-kids). Who can blame them? She is lying and trying to get kids in trouble when they have done nothing. I see red flags. Her dad says she has always been like this.

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    This isn't exactly lying, it's exaggerating. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be addressed, though. – Acire Nov 24 '14 at 22:13
  • Isn't exaggerating lying? – Lisa Hansen Nov 24 '14 at 23:26
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    I guess from a very strict linguistic perspective, maybe? But she isn't making things up, rather she is overstating the impact on her. It has to be dealt with in a slightly different way: you couldn't say "Sophia didn't touch you," for example. I definitely think that she is trying to cause trouble with it and that it will only get her negative attention, but it seems trickier to address than outright falsehoods. – Acire Nov 24 '14 at 23:47
  • Lisa, can you expand on "her mother is like this too"? I'm not clear what you mean. – A E Nov 25 '14 at 10:01
  • I have not met Bell's mother so I don't have any stories. But Bella's father said Bell's mother does it too. When I asked my step daughter what he meant, she said, crazy drama stuff all the time. I guess I am just worried, she is coming to Thanksgiving and I want all of the kids to play and have a good time, but I am afraid Bella will start being Bella and put a damper on the fun. – Lisa Hansen Nov 25 '14 at 18:24
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Anyone have any thoughts on this?

My thoughts: Bella has gone through a lot and is facing more change. She is 6 years old. She needs some people to love her, to hear her, and to react lovingly.

By lovingly, I don't mean ignoring her exaggerations, which are clearly an attempt to get attention. By lovingly, I mean doing the hard work of looking at our own reactions, rejecting what is not love, and responding with the best of what's left.

Imagine for a moment what it must feel like to have no say in how your parents behave. Remember that you rely on them for basically everything. They can fight, they can yell, they can move out of the house, they can choose to see you less often, they can get married to new people, they can do all kinds of things you have no control over. It must be incredibly frightening.

Rather than address Bella's unfortunate attempts to get attention, I think I would encourage the new family to get some counseling, or at the very least, read a few good books about the effect of divorce and remarriage on children and melded families. Then I would try very hard to hear Bella.

I don't know if this is the answer, but it's one. When she makes such an outlandish accusation, I would completely ignore it, so that she doesn't get attention for accusations. Later, I would have a little sit-down and ask her what she's feeling when she says these things, and go from there.

In the meantime, I would give her positive reinforcement when she behaves well, alone or with others, as well as for other things, like good choices. I would give her opportunities to exert some control over her day-to-day life. (What do you want to wear to school tomorrow? What story would you like me to read to you tonight? Do you want milk, juice or water with lunch?) She deserves that much.

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    Perceptive answer. – A E Nov 25 '14 at 10:03
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First and foremost, I would suggest you try to learn to make your very first question, always:

are you ok?

So if someone brushes against her and she yells that the person hit her (presumably wanting to get the other one "in trouble") ignore that part about the other person and ask "are you hurt?" "are you ok?" "does it hurt?" "do you need to come away from what you're doing and sit here with me because you got hurt?" And I don't mean in the way that many parents [including me, when it was appropriate] ask "is anybody bleeding?" to get older children to have some perspective and stop complaining, I mean genuinely truly asking her what she is reporting to you about herself. Pay absolutely no attention to what she reports about the other person - you saw that it was just a touch. Ask her if she is ok.

She is? That's great, back to what you were doing. She isn't? How can I help you? She may wish for you to help her by punishing the other, and you can just calmly say that you're not going to do that, and ask her again what she needs and how you can help her. Nothing? OK, well I'm sorry to hear that you aren't feeling happy right now. Then some sort of positive suggestion like "do you want to keep colouring with Evie, or would you rather [some specific suggestion like read a book or play a solo game that the baby can't play]?

It takes a lot of practice to always start with "are you ok?" and not "What did you just do?" "Who started it?" "What just broke?" "Who said that?" "do I need to bring a mop?" and the like, typically in an angry or exasperated tone. I learned to do it. From the next room there's a CRASH! and everyone starts yelling at once, as you run towards them ask "are you ok? Is anyone hurt?" Whatever broke will never know whether you asked about it first or not. But your children (and all the other children who visit your home) will always remember that your first question, every time, wasn't aimed at figuring out who to blame and punish, but making sure that the kids were ok. And in this case, asking her about herself every time puts the focus on her, as she wants, and gives you a chance to show you care, not by punishing others for non-transgressions, but by lavishing a little TLC on someone who is clearly hurting. Perhaps once she understands she can trust you to care about this, she will stop making up reasons to draw this positive attention onto herself.

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