Why Kids Lie and What You Can Do About It
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Parents can start to notice kids telling lies when their child reaches the preschool years. This is because developmentally your child has reached the level of understanding that adults don’t actually know everything that they know. Before this, children believe that you know what they do, so there is little point to telling a lie.
Early lying can be identified more easily than lying in the later years. Once kids hit primary school their level of understanding about the world around them and how it works is knowledgeable and therefore makes their lies more believable.
There are many reasons why a child may choose to lie:
Reason 1 – Lying has proven to work for them so becomes their go to strategy.
Reason 2 – No consequences.
Reason 3 – It gets them attention. Kids will aim for your attention be it good or bad.
Reason 4 – It helps them to avoid punishment.
Reason 5 – It has become habit. And while they may no longer fully understand why they constantly lie, the reasons behind it may differ from why they started lying in the first place.
What to do when your child lies:
- When your child lies to you stress feelings. When you lie it makes me feel sad. And while you must discuss the lie, don’t keep reminding your child about it in the future. As adults we don’t like to be reminded of our mistakes and kids are the same.
- Avoid labelling your child as a liar. Kids live up to labels and if felt it is expected, may decide it is their calling to lie and that they have little control over this. Labelling creates a defeatist attitude and nudges them down a certain path.
- Try not to make your child lie. If you see your preschooler hit the baby then don’t ask “did you hit the baby”? You know what happened you just saw it. Don’t open the window of opportunity for your child to lie. We want to set our kids on the path of truth so limiting the opportunities where they could go down the path of lying and pick it up as a habit can be avoided.
- Ensure you are creating consequences for lying and make these inline with the lie as close as possible for example. If your child tells you they didn’t take the money and they did, you must not only ensure you get the money back, but that they not be paid for their jobs for the following week. Relating your consequence to the lie is more powerful and helps to drive your lesson home.
- Remember to praise them when they tell you the truth and you can see that it would have been easy for them to tell a lie. Show your appreciation and tell them you are proud of their decision to tell the truth.
- Don’t lie yourself. As parents we lie all the time! I can’t buy you that toy I don’t have any money. Kids very quickly learn that you always have money and the game is soon over. Use honesty when explaining things to kids. While you may feel you don’t have any money to spend on the kids or simply don’t want to buy more toys, simply changing your statement to “I don’t have any money for toys” is probably more truthful. As parents you are the biggest role model, and if your kids feel that you tell them lies, then this in their little minds gives them permission to do the same.