It is really normal for kids to tell a fib or two.
They lie for lots of different reasons. Maybe they are worried about getting in trouble, or they are looking to get attention. It could be that they are trying to get out of a responsibility or chore, or trying to protect themselves or a friend. Lying might happen because our expectations of our children are too high, or we are not giving them enough one on one time and attention. Young children tend to tell lies based on fantasy, or what they wish they could do.
Whatever the reason for the lies, the key is to nip it in the bud, before the lying becomes a habit. How?
FIRST- we have to be a good example. We have to be an honest parent. Kids will primarily do what they see us as their parents doing. Do we ever fib? Sneak into a movie, lie about ages to get lower prices, pretend no one is home so you don’t have to answer the door? Kids will pick up on these lies. We have to honest so they will be honest. We can’t lie ourselves.
SECOND- Analyze why our kids are lying. I caught our son lying once and asked him why he lied, “Because I didn’t want to get in trouble.” was his response. In second grade our son fibbed about what our family did for Spring Break. The teacher asked everyone in the class to stand up and talk about what they did. Although we had fun, we didn’t go anywhere lavish or grand, like other classmates. So he lied, to sound cool and fit in. Take some time to think about why they are lying?
THIRD- We need to give our kids enough attention and be willing to listen to our children. Then, our kids will feel more comfortable talking to us, and less likely to hide things from us. They will be more open with us because they feel respected, and in turn will give respect. Remember that to kids, attention is attention. If they are not getting enough positive attention from us, they will do “something” to get attention. Even if it is negative, like lying.
FOURTH- Teach that honest is THE policy in your home. Teach that you will always be honest with them, and you expect them to be honest in return. There are no exceptions. “In this family, we tell the truth.”
FIFTH-Don’t be a harsh parent. Create an environment so kids feel safe coming to us and telling the truth. When we are harsh with our children, they will be afraid to tell the truth and will lie to avoid our harsh response.
SIXTH- Make expectations and rules clear. And consequences clear.
When your child does lie…
1. Don’t accuse your child of lying or call them a liar. This will make them feel trapped and make things worse. Instead of “did you break the cookie jar?” say, “Looks like there was an accident, do you need some help cleaning things up, what happened?”
2. Don’t overact. If your child knows that you are going to stay calm, they are more likely to tell you the truth. They don’t want to tell the truth if they think it is going to get them in trouble.
3. Enforce consequences. When your child lies, there should be a consequence. It should be reasonable. Understand that there are two sets of consequences. A consequence when you do something wrong, and another one for lying.
4. Stick to the facts. Facts are things you heard or saw, yourself. “Your backpack is still on the ground, be honest, did you pick it up like you were asked?” “Your coach told me a different story, please tell me the truth.”
After the lie…
*Teach what happens when we lie. (Get in trouble, people don’t want to be your friend, can’t trust you, hurts others, etc…)
*Teach the difference between make believe and fiction. Kids need to understand the difference between make believe and real life.