AT some point in their lives, a child will learn how to lie, and it’s a normal part of child development. Whether it’s to cover up something they did or get something they want, kids will, at one point, lie to their parents.
Lying at such a young age shouldn’t be a big problem as long as you teach them the value of honesty. Lying among kids has been found to begin when they’re around 3 years old usually. You may start to notice them lying more often around the ages 4 to 6 years old. As kids grow up, parents may expect them to get better at lying when they start to understand the concept behind it and how to school their expressions when they lie.
If you’ve caught your kiddo lying too often to get out of trouble or otherwise, here’s all that you need to know on how to deal with a lying child and teach them about the value of honesty.
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Why Kids Lie
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), when children reach the age of 8, when they get to lie more successfully with their lies a little bit more complicated than when they were younger. Here are a few reasons and possible scenarios that would lead our little ones to answer in dishonesty to help understand why kids lie.
To avoid getting into trouble
You may find that your kids tend to lie to escape responsibility or punishment during their early school years. If your child may have behaved wrongly or done something they shouldn’t have, they might make up a cover story to avoid getting scolded.
Kids already have a wide range of imagination at a very young age and often enjoy pretending to play characters based on what they see on television or in books. In this case, younger kids should not be held accountable for maybe wanting to make their stories more exciting or make themselves look better.
“They’re not purposely distorting the truth. They love to exaggerate and make up tall tales, but these stories are expressions of their rich imagination, not lies,” said clinical psychologist Richard Gallagher, PhD, on preschoolers.
Even when kids know their parents know the truth, they may still respond with a lie to catch your attention and see how you would react to their lie. They may also lie to their peers to impress them.
To get away from something they did
Experts have found that children with anxiety or depression might lie to focus on themselves and hide what they truly feel. This is usually because they don’t want you to worry about them.
To get something they want
Kids may also lie to get something they want, such as saying things like “Mum lets me have lollies before dinner.” They may also lie in fear of disappointment like lying about a failing grade they got or losing a toy.
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How To Deal With A Lying Child
We never know when our kids have their little fingers crossed behind them when they tell us something. So when you do catch them lying, don’t immediately freak out. There are many effective ways in what you can do to handle their little deliberate lies.
- Don’t overreact. It won’t do your kid any good if you instantly start getting mad at them for a lie they made and may only make them spit out more lies in defence. Remain calm and talk to them about their behaviour.
- Avoid calling your child ‘a liar’. Instead of calling them out on their lie, let it be clear that lying is not okay and use an appropriate discipline strategy. Remain calm and instead suggest how you can fix their problem like a mess they might have made or something they may have broken.
- Asking them directly what really happened. Gently sit them down for a talk and ask for the truth. You can make the situation lighter by asking things like, “That’s a tall tale, now why don’t you tell me what really happened?”
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How To Teach Kids About Honesty
To encourage our children to tell the truth as much as possible, here are a few tips for parents:
1. Be an honest role model
As parents, we influence our kids right off the bat the moment they’re born. Kids tend to mimic and learn more from what their parents do. Make sure that you also stick to your own values and avoid lying to and in front of them as much as possible.
2. Nurture their self-esteem
So that your kids won’t start to lie to impress others, try to spend more time cheering them on and praising them for their existing achievement. You may also explore a new hobby or succeed in an activity with them that will help boost their self-esteem.
3. Set up clear rules in your home
Make sure you’re clear in what they should or should not to do so that they won’t worry about how much trouble they would be in when they do make a mistake. Having clear consequences of particular actions may even encourage them to avoid doing such things.
4. Try telling them stories about the importance of honesty
For a more creative way to teach honesty to kids, you can read together books or tell them stories that highlight the value of honesty. It would also help to be honest about your feelings and not pretend like things are okay when they’re not to avoid misconception.
5. Praise them when they do tell the truth
When your child does tell you the truth, make sure to praise them for being honest by saying things like, “I’m really glad you told me the truth.” This would give them the impression that you would not be upset when they are honest and may even stop lying in the future.
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