One of the most frustrating, depressing, and worrying behaviors a parent can face is finding out that their children are lying. Why do children lie? What makes them resort to lying? These are just a couple of questions parents ask when put in the situation.
When a child lies, parents end up losing trust in their children, which can lead to even more lying to try and regain our trust. While it feels like a never-ending cycle, in this article we’ll discuss why kids lie and how to deal with it in a positive way.
Why do children lie?
- One of the reasons children lie is because they have a wild imagination. Their creativity makes them create an imaginary world and come up with all sorts of imaginary situations in their daily life. Sometimes, they lose track of what is real and what is made up and can actually believe what they visualize as a form of reality.
- Children sometimes lie to avoid doing something they don’t want to do such as brushing their teeth or doing their homework.
- Another reason children lie is that they’re afraid of being punished. This is one of the most dangerous forms of lying as it can become a habit.
- When a child is exposed to lying at home, they think it is normal or acceptable to lie. Be careful when you ask a child to lie on your behalf, even if it’s just avoiding a phone call by saying you’re busy.
- Pathological lying: This is when lying is chronic and needs the aid of a psychologist to be treated.
How to treat kids lie
We asked Rahet Bally’s certified positive psychology and parenting coach, Rana Hany, how to deal with children who lie:
“If the child is constantly lying to situations we deem unnecessary, we need to figure out why they resort to lying,” Hany explains.
To do this you should:
- Avoid labeling the child as a liar or mentioning that they constantly make things up to prevent the child from believing this trait and acting as a liar.
- If you notice your child has lied in something quite obvious, you can try rephrasing your sentence and saying something along the lines of “Do you mean that you brushed your teeth yesterday, but you still haven’t brushed your teeth today since your toothbrush is still dry?” This will alert your child that you understand what’s happening without labeling the child as a liar.
- If a child is lying by making up stories, incidents, or scenarios that didn’t actually happen, you can redirect the focus on their creative imagination. You can do this by telling them “That’s such a good story! How about when you want to create an imaginary story, we write it down and turn it into a book?”
- You can use bedtime stories to highlight the negative impact and ask the child why they think the protagonist of the story might resort to lying to understand what is happening in their head.
- Always allow a child to speak up, share their opinion, and encourage them to talk freely without punishing them to prevent them from feeling afraid or worried that they might be punished for anything they might say.
- Do not punish a child for lying as this can make them resort to lying to get out of trouble in the future.
- Whenever a child is honest and says the truth even when it is really difficult, avoid punishing them and try to thank them for their honesty.
At the end of the day, it is important to be a role model for your children and always choose to be honest. Show them that it is unacceptable to lie even if it is a small situation. Try to make it easier for them to avoid lying by avoiding punishments and severe consequences for telling the truth.
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