Even as adults, we all face with situations where we have to lie in order to get away with our faults. There is no doubt that sometimes small sometimes huge lies can efficiently solve the problems in hard circumstances.
Considering that, it is not surprising that children lie as well. In fact, according to a research, the first lie of a person is told between the ages of 2 and 3 when their cognitive skills are developed enough to do so.
Thus, you can relax if you feel stressed about the lies your kid is telling you frequently as it is pretty normal for your child. Moreover, it indicates that he/she is going through a healthy mental development stage.
However, there are some things we can do to minimize the number of lies our kids tell us. I say “to minimize” because let’s be honest and accept that they are going to lie every now and then whatever we do about it, which is perfectly normal.
Just like we don’t tell our kids every detail of our lives, they have the same right to do so. Even so, to minimize the level of it while giving them the motivation to be honest, here are 5 things you can do:
1) Find out their motives for lying
I remember that my English teacher once told me that I would be the next Charles Dickens. I know that she wasn’t lying, but I am now.
See what I did there? Lying requires a motivation beside from having fun. I told a harmless lie to attract more attention to this article very easily.
When it is that easy to lie, why shouldn’t a kid try his/her luck with it?
Whether it is because they are scared, they want to look cool, they did something they are not supposed to do or they didn’t do something they are supposed to do, kids will always try their luck with lying at some points.
White lies are always acceptable both for adults and children. However, it is important to address why they are lying in the first place to see if there is a deeper underlying issue for your kid to do that.
Let’s say your kid lied to you about breaking the vase or tidying up the bedroom. Is he/she lying about it because he/she is too scared of the punishment you’re possibly going to give him/her? Or is he/she just trying his/her luck?
If you are punishing your kid harshly, your kid might be terrified of the consequences of his/her actions and this may lead him/her to lie more.
You should make him/her sure that the punishment you give will not be too hard. Also do not forget to make him/her sure that the punishment for lying is-and will be- harder than the punishment he/she is going to get when he/she tells the truth.
So, it is important to remember that limiting his/her actions by harsh punishments is not a plausible way to solve the problem of lying. You might want to consider making him/her feel not scared in order to make him/her feel safe enough to be able to tell the truth. Thus, triggering their fear should be out of question.
Their lying may also be the result of their low self-esteem. If they don’t feel like they are cool enough, as a coping mechanism they might tell unrealistic stories that will make them look superior to others in order to show off to other kids.
A low self-esteem problem diagnosed at an early age might be helpful for preventing long-term issues it might create. In other words, it can be effective to take early measurements for the problem.
On the other hand, if your kid is lying to you to get your attention, this might be an indicative of the lack of bonding you have with your kid. Paying attention to what he/she says and what he/she does might give him/her adequate confidence to talk to you honestly about his/her daily life and other issues he/she might be having.
It is also essential to be able to distinguish between whether what your kid tells is a lie or just an outcome of his/her imagination. A toddler might not think that he/she is lying, believing in a fantasy he/she created in his/her mind.
As a result, a 13-year-old child will be more aware of his/her lying compared to a 6-year-old.
Accordingly, it is crucial for parents to consider giving different reactions to their lying while they are growing up since their mental development will change over time.
2) Never give your child long lectures or call him/her names
Rather than giving him/her lessons through long talks, it is way more effective to make your kid acknowledge that you know he/she is lying. The reason for that is, kids get bored when you are giving them lectures and they stop listening to you.
However, when you make him/her realize that you know that he/she lied, he/she would consider not lying the next time believing that you might be aware of the fact that he/she’s lying again.
Also, negative criticism or putting labels on your kid may cause your kid to struggle with low self-esteem problems in the future.
Imagine someone calling you a liar instead of trying to solve the problem or asking you why you lied in the first place. Wouldn’t that damage the bond you have with that person?
Theexact same situation applies to kids as well. If you do not give yourkid a chance to solve this problem with you and attack him/her by calling him/her with labels instead, the bond he/she has with you will be damaged eventually.
Obviously, a damaged bond will not encourage your child to be honest. On the contary, giving lectures, criticizing and putting labels can only result in making your kid lie more.
3) Read didactic tales with your kid
Probably, it is the easiest thing to do in this list since it just involves reading to your kid. We all know those tales where a character faces bad consequences of lying. Remember that there is always a lesson in those tales.
The reason why it is a good method is, you will not be lecturing your kid but you will be telling a story with a valuable lesson in it. Kids will be more interested in learning lessons from tales since they excite them while activating their imagination.
4) Be a great role model yourself
It is true that our first teachers are our families. Although our beliefs and behaviors are shaped over time, we first learn how to behave and what to think from them.
If my parents were better at lying, I am sure I would be better at it too and if they lied more, I would do so since we tend to imitate the behaviors we see around us.
However, it doesn’t mean that if my parents didn’t lie at all, I wouldn’t neither. They are not the only resource I am getting my information from. Therefore, I could still lie, but they would have an effect on how much I lie.
Now that we established the concept of the role model, we can say that our kids learn from us. If you are a caregiver who always gets away with lying, your kid will witness it at some point.
Sincehe/she sees that you are getting away with it, why shouldn’t he/she try thesame when it seems like it’s working for you? Why shouldn’t he/she try tocover up his7her mistakes by lying when he/she cannot see a bad consequenceof it?
Accordingly, try to be more honest with your child so that he/she can do the same with you. He/she will want to be honest too when he/she sees that you always tell the truth. He/she will start thinking that telling the truth is the right thing since you always do it.
5) Create an environment she/he’s welcomed in
I personally believe that this is the most important thing you can dofor your child. It is an effective thing to do not only when your child is lying but also in every situation.
However, since our topic is about children who lie, I will only address how creating such an environment can help us with the issue.
Creatinga welcoming environment for your child is something you should do assoon as your child is born. However, if for any reason, you weren’table to provide this for your kid till now, it’s still not too lateto turn things around. You can still at least try to provide this forhim/her.
Bond-building is the most significant part of raising a kid. While you are building that bond, you have to make sure that you are being a safe haven for your child.
Your kid only knows you as his/her caregiver and he/she relies on you. If he/she cannot feel that you are his/her safe haven, your bond will start to break apart in time which may result in him/her lying to you.
In order to be the safe haven for your child, first of all you have to make sure that you are not being judgemental to your kid at any level. Let her/him know that you will be there for him/her no matter what so that he/she will not be terrified of telling you the truth all the time.
Notbeing judgemental will be easier if you can accept that the life youare bringing into this world will not grow to be the same person asyou. As a result, you have to be understanding of all the different aspects ofyour kid that makes him/her the person he/she is.
Another point you have to be careful about is not to overreact when your kid makes a mistake or when you realize that he/she is lying to you.
If you ever feel like you are getting angry and might overreact, take the time to calm down and then address the issue with your kid calmly.
If you avoid overreacting, your kid won’t be extremely terrified to tell you the truth next time. When you overreact, he/she might lie again thinking that he/she needs to hide some things from you.
If your child still continues lying compulsively and none of these methods work, remember to consult a therapist to diagnose any possible underlying mental issues, the most common of them is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
As listed above, there are 5 main measurements parents can do to deal with a child who lies. You should start with understanding their motives for lying. Instead of giving lectures to them, you can read didactic tales with your child. Also, you shouldn’t put labels on your kid and should be a role model for them while being the safe haven.
However, let’s not forget that even learning about lying is a part of their mental development and it is important to leave some room for their white lies too.