Saying something she knows is not true

Hi Ann!

I’m hoping that I can get your help on something…
I have a 2-1/2 year old daughter and a 3-1/2 month old son. Just recently Olivia has begun some very different behaviors. The one I’m most concerned with is that she will purposely say something that she knows is not true in order to get a response. For example, she will tell me that the sky is green. I will say, “no, the sky is blue” and she’ll begin to argue with me. Is this just a way to get my attention? How should I respond? I’m trying my best to spend one on one time with her, but nothing seems to help right now.

Dr. Ann Corwin, The Parenting Doctor Advice

Olivia is acting just like a 21/2 year old who is scared that she might disappear as quickly as her new baby brother appeared. So she will try to communicate with you any way she can to make sure you are paying attention and will not leave her. Now you and I know that is ridiculous, but she doesn’t! So yes, your instincts are correct, she is doing it to get attention and it is a direct result of her trying to deal with the new baby.

The arguing, even though it is not pleasant is better than you not talking to her at all. So, when she begins to say the “opposite” of what you are saying, you need to stop talking. You could just take her hand and lead her outside and point to the sky or just not say anything…change the subject and start talking about some other “truth”.

The quickest way to stop this type of attention seeking communication is for you not to respond at all. Then, just as importantly, when she does talk to you and does not argue or deliberately says something to “keep you communicating” you have to touch her, get down to her level and say something like, “I love talking to you right now”…so she knows how to get your attention and what is the right way to get my mom to pay attention.

Just keep trying to spend as much one-on-one time as is realistic to help her through this! But, another thing that might help is to tell her daily that you will always be with her, how she is different than her brother and special (This will help her believe that she will not being replaced by her baby brother.), each night tell her that you are looking forward to seeing her face in the morning and doing whatever you have planned for the day, so she begins to associate your words with feeling safe and never deserted by you! Hope this helps? If you need to set up a phone consultation, just give my office a call at (949) 643-9978 Take care, Ann