I have run across this phenomenon way too many times:
Something bad happens in school.
I approach the kid.
I tell the kid to tell the truth.
A kid lies to avoid getting in trouble.
I find out the kid lied and now he’s in trouble for both the original infraction and the lying.
Next time the kid messes up, the kid creates a better lie so he has a better chance of not getting in trouble.
I have had several kids in the last four years who have fit this sequence well. And I’m not sure what I’ve done to break this cycle and ensure the kid becomes a truth teller instead of a better liar.
This year is no exception in that I’ve got another storyteller. Very talented, bright student, who happens to be a hoarder and/or thief (not sure on that one yet). Sad thing is, he uses his brain to craft stories on how to get out of trouble. I can imagine it takes a lot of energy to do that (too bad he doesn’t apply all that extra towards learning…)
My principal has encouraged me to speak with his counselor (thank God he’s got one) to brainstorm ideas about how to intervene here. The counselor’s response was a new one – and I’m going to give it a try.
We need to create a box of trinkets and goodies (appropriate for 7th grader) that he loves. Each day, he is allowed to take one item from the box. The cool thing for him is that he doesn’t have to tell anyone what he’s taken and he doesn’t have to ask to take something. As long as he only takes one, he’s within his bounds. All of the items will be marked so that parents and I both know he has only taken from his free box (I’m hoping to come up with a cool name – any ideas?).
Now, if he is caught stealing from anywhere else (including home or school), all of the items that had been taken from the box will need to be returned, and will be taken from the box permanently. In addition, his access to the box will be suspended for three days. Once that time has elapsed, he will once again be allowed to dip into the box once daily.
It is the my hope that this “legal theft” from the box daily will satiate his “need” to take stuff. As a school, we are getting what we want (no stealing of other goods from school), and he is getting what he wants (goodies and treats – all while “sorta” stealing).
I am curious – does anyone out there have other ideas on how to stop a young man (13 years old) from a life of taking without permission?