Parenting nuggets: On the issue of lying…


I was reading an article recently where the man was lamenting about how his wife lies. He said, “My wife can lie for world cup championship.” Then I thought but we all lie sometimes. He went on to say “No matter how hard you try she would never tell the truth. She has had to lie her all of her life because she grew up in a judgmental family who made her feel like she could never tell them of the mistakes she made without being looked at like she was going to hell so she lied and never told anyone “.

Then it hit me.

When my son was younger he would lie about peeing on his bed. No matter what you did he would deny and say it was sweat and not pee. I would be like seriously?? “Are you joking or you mean it”. He would say it was sweat. He would lie to avoid scolding. This was not helping, I had a bedwetter and a liar. For this to work i had to change my strategy. No more scolding, no more mocking, no more humiliation just simple helping, rewarding and no judgment. (Hey, i was a full time bedwetter myself and I lied to cover up so whats my stress). Why am I judging him? Why am I taking it out on him? I had to be more patient and understanding (trust me it was easier said than done). When he peed i didn’t bother asking him ‘did you pee on the bed’ as it was clear he did and asking would only mean him denying it. If he denied it long enough he will convince himself he is telling the truth and says its sweat. So to avoid the lie, I avoided the question. I just go ahead and say ‘you wet the bed get up and clean up’. Then I did my bit making sure he didn’t eat late or drink too much water before bed and having to wake him up at interval to give him a leverage. On the days he woke up dry, we would make such a big deal about it and give him a special treat to look forward to. This greatly improved his dry nights and reduced the need to cook up lies.

In my opinion, apart from those who have made a habit of lying over time, most children lie because they don’t want to get into trouble and they have no other way of dealing with a problem. It’s almost like a faulty survival skill for children. As a parent, it can be very difficult but don’t take your child’s lying personally or pass judgment on them. Most times it is because there’s something else going on with them. The important thing to do is to address the behavior behind the lie (just like I did with the bedwetting). If you take the lying personally by being angry or judgment or you yell at your child and say something like, “How dare you lie to me,” unfortunately, that’s all you’re going to be able to address. You’re not going to be able to deal with the real issue (bedwetting) of your child or the reason behind the lie. The bottom line is that your anger and frustration about the lie is not going to help your child change his behavior. It will only drive them further away and make them find a better lying skill to keep you in the dark. This can go on for years till they get their own home where it will become even more difficult to stop. That’s why we have many adult liars.

Stop being judgmental. Keep your doors open and create an environment where your child can safely come to you without you attacking them. Don’t accidentally breed a liar.

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