‘My child does not lie’ is the biggest lie any parent can tell themselves. It may come as a surprise to you that your little angel has gone to some extent to pretend, cover up and even lie to your face. The fake cries to get attention, pretending to be injured to avoid going to bed and telling you they are not hungry just so they can continue with their play. Children lie. They have lied and they will lie again. Its a fact of life and it is inevitable. We just have never caught them.
Now while pointing fingers of disapproval at them, remember that the remaining finger points back at you. What parent has not lied to a child in order to prevent him (or her) from knowing an unpleasant truth (everything will be ok, you will get pregnant if a man touches you), taught their children to lie to someone they love (“tell grandma that you love the gift she gave you”) or instructed a child to lie on their behalf (“tell them I’m not at home”) or the very popular one I will buy you sweet tomorrow if you do…..
Children learn to be deceptive at an early age, but more often than not, children learn this behavior at home. Children watch their parents lie and they are unconsciously taught to lie by their parents. In fact, they quickly learn that lying can be useful when trying to avoid punishment, create a better image (the good and wonderful child), influence other’s behavior, or form their own identity. For better or worse, parents teach their children how to lie and then get upset when their children use deception for their own purposes.
A child will lie if he or she is afraid of getting in trouble. BUT, it is also in a child’s nature to lie because as humans we are born of a ‘corrupt seed’. Sometimes lying is a matter of the will. The question is – what happens when we find out they have lied?
If you ever ‘surprisingly’ discover your child is lying, it helps if you can remain calm. And it helps to focus on the underlying issue. What issue is your child lying about? If a parent disciplines too harshly, your child will lie to avoid the discipline. This has been proven to be true. Focusing on a child’s lie and punishing too harshly, rather than focusing on the underlying issue, will take your time and energy away from addressing the real problem—only making it more likely that the behavior will happen again and can even become perfected.
So, take a deep breath. Remember we are all sinners. Before you cast the first stone, make sure you have removed the log from your own eye. Take a look inward and think back to what prompted you or will ever prompt you to lie. This will help you see things from your child’s perspective. Remember that unlike adults, children have not learnt to deal with the consequences of their behaviour. So instead of punishing too harshly teach them to make right choices. Every child has to be redirected for wrong behavior be (it lying, stealing etc) or they will grow up embracing the wrong. They need to understand that there are consequences for every choice they make (good and bad). Encourage them when they make good choices and give them natural and reasonable consequences when they make wrong choices. Be consistent and discipline in love. While this method may not solve the problem for a compulsive liar, if used consistently, it often leads to better outcomes in the long run.