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Stop The Lies!

It's inevitable that you'll eventually catch your child lying. Maybe you haven't yet or maybe you've opted to ignore it but sooner or later it will happen. This doesn't mean your child is a "liar" or you did something wrong in raising them, it's just a fairly common bad behavior among kids. Not that there are any "good intentions" when lying, but children usually lie to get something they want, avoid punishment, protect their friends or siblings or to get attention. Most likely your child isn't lying to challenge or disobey you, there's a valid reason behind their lies and it's your job to figure it out.

Finding the Problem Behind the Lie

Oftentimes a child is trying to cover up something when they lie. They may have witnessed lying on television, by a neighborhood kid or by you, and it may have worked in that situation so they figure why not try it out? Most of the time you can put a stop to a child's lies, but if you choose to ignore it then it has the potential to develop into a much bigger issue. As soon as you catch your child in a lie you want to follow the below stops to correct the issue:

  • Make sure your child knows the difference between reality and make believe. Obviously, this doesn't apply to older kids but for children 3-5 years old they may be a little confused. Maybe they saw a character on TV lying and they are emulating the behavior. It may be hard for them to separate the two so explain to them the difference.
  • Set up a behavior chart and reward good behaviors.
  • Avoid asking "set-up" questions. In other words, don't give your child the chance to lie. Instead of saying "did you clean your room" ask, "I notice you didn't clean your room, would you like to come up with a plan to pick it up?" If you clearly saw the room wasn't picked up, what's the point in asking your child anyways?
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if you're 99 percent sure your child is lying, hear them out anyways. Give them a chance to explain their side of the story, otherwise they'll just lie because they've experienced that telling the truth doesn't get them anywhere.
  • Pleasantly surprise your kids. When your kid confesses to a lie go a little easier on them. Realize that it took courage to confess a lie, just like it does if you were to confess to one. You want them to know that even if they do something wrong, lying isn't the solution.
  • Don't "name call." Even if you caught them in numerous lies, don't call your child a liar. This has the potential to make the situation worse and even cause self-esteem damage to your child.

Almost every child will lie at some point in their lives. Remember, there are usually valid reasons why a child has decided to lie and you should try to discover what the underlying issue is. Lying is usually a learned behavior, therefore you need to address the lie as soon as it occurs or else the child will think it has worked and continue the behavior.