If you are struggling with a kid who is lying then today’s episode is for you. We will be discussing Why do kids lie? And what you can do about it without making a big deal out of it.
So the other day I was watching a movie about the invention of lying. A technical glitch at the bank causes Mark to invent the art of lying. He is the first person ever to lie and everybody believes him. Using his newfound power, he becomes rich and famous.
The plot seemed so true to the point that I thought yes maybe that’s how lying must have been invented. So simple.
Another stark difference between reality and the movie was how comfortable people were with the truth. If a girl didn’t like a guy she would just say it on his face. No sugar coating it in flowery words. No people-pleasing and most importantly honesty in work.
I was brought back to reality by a loud ruckus in the kid’s room. Apparently, the elder one had pushed the younger one and she was crying. On asking him did u push your sister? I got plain nooo. That was the first time he had resorted to lying. Does this happen at your house too? Kids lying on your face. That brings us to today’s episode on why kids lie.
As much as we might like to think that our children will always tell the truth, the reality is that lying is something most children will resort to at one point or another. It’s worth noting that telling lies is a natural part of child development and that in most cases, children outgrow this behaviour.
Studies show that lying is common from age 4 to 17, and by age 7, kids can tell a lie so well that often their parents can’t even tell they’re being untruthful.
So Why Do Kids Lie?
When addressing this common problem, parents should consider a child’s age, the circumstances and reasons for the lie, and how frequently he engages in this behaviour. For example, many younger children -usually younger than age 6, can not yet make a clear distinction between fantasy and reality, and their “lie” may actually just be an expression of their imagination.
That said, a child as young as age 4 is perfectly capable of deliberately telling a lie to avoid getting into trouble or get something he wants. But since lying really is serious misbehaviour, how can you address it without fueling the problem. Handling sensitive children having lying problem can be particularly tough. A little extra coaxing can lead to a storm.
Some common causes of lying in school-age children include:
- Wishful imaginative play
- Fear of punishment
- A desire to brag to friends/classmates to boost the status and impress them
- To avoid something they don’t want to do (such as clean up toys)
- A desire to not disappoint parents when expectations are too high
- Unhappiness with something in their lives
- An attempt to get attention
Here are some concrete ways to identify why your child lies.
Firstly identify if it’s a tiny lie.
If yes then laugh it off. The more lightly you take it, the more quickly you are going to get out of it!! Children lie to avoid confrontation, a lot of it is mindless and to avoid thinking!
For seeking attention
It’s best to ignore it. Rather than saying harshly, “That’s a lie. I know that didn’t happen to you!” Let them enjoy the attention especially if it’s coming from under-confidence.
A lie about a daily routine.
For eg. homework, hygiene, toys can be first ignored and then be told to do the action again. Instead of calling it a lie, it is a “story”! So if your child says I have cleaned my room and you know for sure he hasn’t then say i thinks that’s a lovely story but why don’t you clean it up again. In this way, you didn’t highlight the lie and still got the job done.
Lying for serious reasons.
For eg. teens lying about where they’ve been or what they have done, the first thing you can do to deal with this level of lies is to sit with them and lay down the rules and tier repercussions.
Even if you have already done that before. Be clear in the punishments and stand your ground each time your teen or older child breaks the rules. Consequences should help them practice better behaviours and help them learn from it.
Don’t call it out or highlight it.
That sounds like a bit of a story to me. You must have felt afraid to tell me the truth. Let’s talk about that.”You’ll get the honesty you’re looking for, as well as information that may help you foster the truth in the future
Acknowledge and appreciate honesty.
Express encouragement when your kids tell the truth. “That must have been difficult for you to tell me what really happened. I admire your courage for telling the truth. You are really growing up!”
Allow your child to save face. Don’t give your child the opportunity to fib by asking questions to which you already know the answer. For example, instead of asking, “Did you finish your homework?” try, “What are your plans for finishing your homework?”
If your child hasn’t completed his homework, he can save face by focusing on a plan of action rather than inventing a story.
Think of mistakes as a way to learn to make better choices in the future. If kids know that you won’t be angry or disappointed when they mess up, they’ll be more likely to share honestly.
To respond, simply say something like, ” If you could have a do-over, what would you do differently?” If your child’s actions negatively affected his sibling or friend, ask what needs to be done to “make it right or how can you make him feel better
Watch your white lies.
Remember that young ears and eyes are always tuned in. Whether you’re failing to correct the barista who gives you too much change or making up a story about why you haven’t finished the assignment at the office yet. Or saying something like I am already in the car while ur still dressing up. remember your actions set the example for acceptable behaviour.
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