Parenting Tips For Moms

Positive Parenting

Is your child lying? How can you get them to stop?

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  • January 31, 2021
  • MKB Team

Children learn to lie from parents that lie.
Lying children grow up to lying adults…
and the cycle continues…

Kids may lie to parents about many things, right from denying about mischief done in school to why they didn’t do their homework. While a few white lies don’t hurt, the situation becomes worrying if the child graduates to a stage when the lying becomes sudden and intense.
These are the main reasons kids lie: fantasy, bragging, or to prevent negative consequences. It is also common for children to lie to get something they want or to get out of something like a task they don’t want to do.
When you distinguish the likely reason for the lie, it can help you develop a plan to respond to it.

Fantasy
Fantasy lies are often engaged in by pre-schoolers and a child might be prone to say things like, “I flew in a spaceship last night.” In that case, instead of laughing or ridiculing the child, ask, “Is that true or something you wish was true?” This can help kids understand the difference between reality and make-believe. But indulge in the
fantasy if your child is just engaging in pretend-play as long as the distinction between fact and fiction is clear.

Bragging
Bragging might be indulged in by a child with low self-esteem or because the child wants to gain attention.

Avoiding Responsibility
We’ve all lied to get out of trouble sometimes, and many of us still do. Kids are no exception. To ensure that their lies aren’t a success, make it clear that you will be double-checking the facts.

Of course, these are basic reasons, but there are also more reasons
why children might lie or shy away from telling the whole truth.

Let’s explore these:
 To test out a new behaviour
There are times when children discover a new idea through their
imagination, and decide to experiment with it. ‘What if I lie about
this?’ the child wonders. ‘What might happen then? What will it do
to me? Where will it lead me?’


 To boost self-esteem and seek approval
Children who lack self-confidence could be compulsive liars in order
to make themselves appear more impressive and raise their worth in
the eyes of their parents. They might also lie to enhance their self-
esteem or seek attention. A kid might say that he scored ten goals in
the football match just to impress his daddy, for example.


 To divert focus off themselves
Children who suffer from anxiety or depression sometimes lie about
their symptoms so the focus shifts from them. They could lie that
they had a sound sleep after a disturbed night as they don’t want
their parents worrying about them.

How can you get your children to stop lying?
 Teach them that the truth reduces punishment. The child should be praised and rewarded for speaking the truth, and made to understand that it makes them more trustworthy. The punishment for not lying maybe to confiscate the phone for a
day instead of a week for lying, for example. However, children should not think that saying the truth means that the punishment for the wrongdoing is negotiable. Then, they’ll turn manipulative which is avoidable.
 Use truth checks where the child is given the chance to speak the truth. For example, if parents have received a complaint from the teacher that the child hasn’t done the homework, they should ask the child for his/her version of the story. They should mention it’s a truth check and lying would get the child
in trouble. However, this technique won’t work for a chronological liar.
 Don’t corner your child or label him/her as a liar. Instead, address the issue in a straightforward manner. Explain and discuss the pros of truth and the cons of lying. For younger children, who wouldn’t understand, use simple explanations
like, ‘If I told you that the sky was yellow, would that be a truth or a lie?’
 Make speaking the truth a household rule that everyone abides by. Once your children see that you value the truth so much, they’ll follow suit.
 Warn the child by giving him/her one more chance to tell the truth or face the consequences. Speak kindly and gently as yelling or threatening a child mostly has negative results.
 Do not go overboard with punishments. Ensure that you deal with the lie in a fair manner. The child should not feel that the parent is being unfair on account of a small lie. Taking away a certain privilege from the child is more apt than keeping
him/her grounded on the weekend for example.
 The last resort for a child who has become a compulsive liar and when lying becomes a serious problem is to seek professional help. This is only in an extreme case of problems arising in school or socially because of the lies.

Was this article helpful for you? Do you have any tips that can prevent a child from lying? Please share them with us and also share your suggestions and feedback. We’d be delighted to hear from you!

Q&A
You ask and we answer!

Why does my child keep lying to me?
Jessie Masceranhas, Goa.
Most parents think children lie to get something they want, avoid a
consequence or get out of something they don't want to do. These
are common motivations, but there are also some less obvious
reasons why kids might not tell the truth, or at least the whole truth.

Can lying be inherited?
Ratna Mukherjee, Kolkata.
There is a type of extreme lying that has a strong genetic component.
Officially known as "pseudologia fantastica," this condition is
characterized by a chronic tendency to spin out outrageous lies, even
when no clear benefit to the lying is apparent.

What is a white lie?
Swati Bharadwaj, New Delhi.
A “white lie” is “a lie about a small or unimportant matter that
someone tells to avoid hurting another person.”

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