No parent wants his child to lie. The hope is that Mom and Dad can trust every word that comes from the lips of their offspring. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. So if lying is, in a sense, inevitable, let’s take a look at what a parent can do to minimize the possibilities and get “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
The first step is to look at why kids choose to lie. Young children are story-tellers for amusement. Until about the age of 5, kids enjoy making up and hearing pretend stories. There is very little harm unless the child blurrs fact and fiction. A child as young as 3 knows the difference between the truth and a lie. Older kids have a different motivation for lying. They lie to get out of doing some chore or assignment or to avoid a consequence for their actions.
In order to combat the probability of lying have an age-appropriate conversation about the difference between lying and telling the truth, emphasizing the importance of the truth. Explain that an individual who consistently lies will be labeled as sneaky or untrustworthy – a label that is difficult to remove. Help the child understand that a lie is hurtful. “It doesn’t hurt anyone,” is never an accurate excuse for lying.
Never assume your child has lied. Be certain before you confront. Then be clear about your expectation – that your child will tell the truth – and explain that if lying occurs again, a consequence will be delivered. When that next offense occurs, no long, drawn-out discussion is necessary. No debate. If lying occurs after you have established the boundaries, you simply administer the consequences with no emotion except love.
Another thought…don’t punish a child who tells the truth and remember you are a role model. Be a positive one!
How have you handled confronting a lying child?