Children are too young to understand why they are lying. Similarly, teens could lie to keep secrets. Here are some ways with which you could deal with a child’s lying behavior.
Identify the Behavior: Parents often discover a little late about a child’s lying behavior and the reasons for this is many. It’s tough as little children especially toddlers and older kids between 3-9 years are very impressionable and often in their own sweet make-believe world. Many times little kids don’t even know when they are talking to themselves or to a parent. At times kids lie just to escape responsibility, to rebel or just to save face from shame and from harsh punishment imposed by very strict parents. Kids also lie to gain attention and favoritism i.e. want to be teacher’s pet or be parents most loved among siblings and put up a front of good behavior. Teens often lie to keep certain emotional matters and “friendships” private as they often find it easier to confide in peers.
Imaginary Friends & Story-telling: Kids often have imaginary friends and use their names to shift blame. The lie or ‘story’ could be something they heard or saw in a cartoon or at school and are just acting it out in real life. They often do this out of fear of ridicule or create fake scenarios and fabricate truth as it’s easier to digest. Lies are often child’s wishes and fantasies which they want to come true as they often can’t cope with school work or are very emotionally needy and need extra attention from home. An alternate reality becomes an easy escape with which they express themselves. Often children learn this tendency from parents who use lies to get away with unpleasant people/situations. For instance; avoid phone-calls from visiting guests as they are tired or not in the mood to socialize. Children could also just be following suit to match up to their parents’ and peers standards.
Ways to Transform: Gently/humorously catch them in the act and like a friend explain right/wrong behaviour. Avoid being religious/dramatic about it as a child is still adapting to the world and needs time and nurturing to fully understand what’s going on. Explain to your kid that truth resolves conflict and builds trust between people and to speak it without being blunt viz; ” If you can’t say something nice about something or someone, say nothing at all. Replace fearful feelings with love and courage to be oneself and praise child’s individuality. Allow them space to express oneself w/out hesitation and as parents avoid keeping something taboo/restricted and let children choose wisely for themselves. A certain level of privacy for teens is essential as they are going through a transition of physical, mental, emotional changes. Allow them time to open up to you and a friendly approach could help to communicate better. As an exercise for kids of all ages, a way to transform lying behaviour is to ask them to write confessional/apology letters and bury them away as a release. If matters worsen ask them to apologize for wrongdoing as it’s a sign of maturity and responsibility for one’s behaviour.
Which are some of your observations about your child’s lying behavior? Share your views with us and get featured on the blog.