When you find out your child hasn’t been telling the truth, it is totally natural to feel betrayed, hurt and even angry. Being lied to doesn’t feel good, especially when it is your child doing the lying. No matter how bad it feels, it’s normal. Totally normal. Not right, dishonest and upsetting, but normal. You see, at one point or another, we have all been dishonest. Whether we are talking about a little white lie to spare someone’s feelings or a full-blown untruth, the truth of the matter? We have all been there. The important thing is to find out why our children are doing this, and how we can deal with it appropriately.
REASONS KIDS LIE AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
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If children feel like lying will please their parents more than the truth, they may choose to lie because they believe that is truly the right thing to do in the moment. They may lie about little things like whether their room has been cleaned as they were asked, or if their homework is done because they would rather be met with a positive response from the parent than with displeasure and they don’t want to disappoint you.
There is also no question that lying is mostly used by children to avoid consequences for a poor choice. It can be difficult for a child to want to tell the truth when they know that by doing so they may be facing a time-out or an alternative negative consequence. In their minds, it’s easier to lie than to go that day without screen time.
Too many consequences to lying behavior can actually be counterproductive and actually exacerbate the untruthful choices. There are ways to discourage this behavior without fueling the issue further.
WAYS TO DISCOURAGE LYING IN YOUR CHILDREN
Children are very intuitive and if they see that you are consistently telling little white lies, they will not see a problem doing the same. Always remember that your actions set the example for what you think is acceptable.
FOCUS ON THE EMOTIONS
When you find your child has been dishonest with you, take the time to find out while your child felt as though they couldn’t tell you the truth. What made your child feel uncomfortable? Be gentle, and remind them that you are there to help and that by them telling you the truth, you are more likely to be able to provide the comfort and care they need than if they lie.
WATCH YOUR WORDING
Instead of giving your child the opportunity to tell an untruth about something you already know the answer to, reformat your questions. For example, don’t ask “Did you clean your room?” if you know already they didn’t. Instead ask things like: “What is your plan for cleaning your room?” That way if your child hasn’t, in fact, cleaned their room, they won’t feel the need to tell you an untruth because they don’t want to disappoint you, instead they can focus on coming up with a plan of action.
MAKE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THEIR HONESTY
If your children do tell you the truth about something that may have been uncomfortable to express, make sure that you make a big deal out of it. Tell your kids how proud you are of them for being honest and how much you value that.
It is really very important that we encourage our children to be honest. Honesty is always the best policy.
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