3 Ways To Prevent Your Kids From Lying
Lying — it's something politicians are often accused of doing, something most adults do at sometime or another in the form of a ’little white lie,’ and something we don’t want children to do.
So why would your child lie? The consequences of telling the truth might have something to do with it. If a child tells the truth and believes they will be severely or unfairly punished, they may learn to avoid punishment in the future by lying. It is important to separate the consequences of lying from the consequences of what happened.
Children can also learn how to lie simply by watching other children and adults. If children see others getting away with lying, they may be tempted to try it themselves. In other cases lying serves to gain attention and approval. Your child may tell stories to other children to be seen as ‘cool’ by their friends. Children who tell such boastful lies may also be lonely, bored, or have low self-esteem.
That said, it’s obvious we need to know when children are lying so we can intervene to teach them not to. That’s often the hard part though — when are you sure your child is not telling the truth? Younger children can sometimes give the game away themselves. They may tell a story that just doesn’t sound right, or the child may break into a smile as their hastily concocted plot unravels.
A few simple questions can help reveal a lie, although a rigorous interrogation is likely to be interpreted as a threat of punishment and will not help the situation. For example, querying how your child came to have $10 in their pocket might include some calm, clear questions about when, where, who was with them, or the order of events.
Here are three ways to prevent your kids from lying:
- To discourage lying in children parents need to discuss the problem with their children. It is important your child knows that lying is unacceptable, but it is equally important for your child to understand some of the effects of lying. You might like to briefly and calmly tell your child how lying affects you and why you think it is a problem.
For example:“Tania, I feel angry and disappointed when you lie. It makes it hard to believe anything you say. If you keep telling lies, you will find that nobody will trust you.”
You can also give your child opportunities to be honest and reward and praise them for telling the truth. This gives your child a positive response to their behavior and they are more likely to repeat their honesty in future. Try telling them that you will give them opportunities to be honest and try it out occasionally. For example, if you know that they haven’t yet cleaned their room, ask them. You will know immediately whether they are being honest or not.
- If your child is finding it hard to learn not to tell lies, you might need to set up a written contract signed by both yourself and your child. This contract should state what you expect your child to do and the rewards and consequences that will follow. Put the contract up on the refrigerator to help avoid getting into a debate with your child. If they have lied, the consequences for that behavior are clearly listed in the contract for all to see.