Being a parent comes with sacrifices, but also with challenges. As children grow up, they begin to understand the world. And so, lying can appear as a regular behavior. I have two children, aged 10 and 14. I can say that lying was a big problem in our family during their childhood. For example, they lied they brushed their teeth. And of course, you can easily say if they brushed their teeth or not.
Honesty is an important quality that helps build stronger relationships and bonds between people. I imagined how would it be to raise some compulsive liars and I was terrified. Gladly, I found solutions to this problem and I can say that lying is part of the past now. Here are nine steps that I have followed and proved to be successful.
Step#1: Be A Role Model
Children can begin to lie to not get into trouble and this means covering something that they did wrong. And I have discovered that children better learn from their parents, as they are the people that they spend the most time with.
This means that you must be a role model for your child. Be honest with him and an example. He needs to understand the importance of honesty from an early age. This brings us to step two.
Step#2: Honesty Talks
I had constant talks with my children about lying and its consequences. I told them that honesty is important in a relationship and that they can lose friends if they lie. What is important for them to understand is that even though some lies can go undiscovered, in the end, they will be caught lying.
It is important to teach your kids the value of honesty. I asked my children questions like "How would you feel if mom and dad would hide the truth from you?". These situational questions have helped them understand that honesty and trust are important in a relationship.
Step#3: The Difference Between a Truth and a Lie
If you want your children to stop telling lies, they need to understand the difference between a truth and a lie. And children are never too young to learn this. I used to play a game with my children: Truth or Lie.
Every day when we were preparing dinner together, I used to make some affirmations. And they had to identify the sentence as a truth or a lie. For example, I said things like: The sky is blue, which is the truth. Or, cucumbers are brown, which is a lie. Like this, they can easily make the difference between a truth and a lie.
Step#4: Balance Compassion and Honesty
While it is important to explain the importance of honesty, you need to teach your children that it must be balanced with compassion. Children often tend to be honest in situations when they hurt others. For example, I noticed that my children begin being honest with their friends by saying that they are ugly or have disgusting clothes. I was flabbergasted.
Balancing honesty and compassion at an early age can be difficult, but with support and a lot of examples, they can understand. As their theory of mind develops, they begin to understand that others have feelings too.
Step#5: Reasons for Lying
Children can lie because they have a rich imagination. Or because they are bragging. Or just to skip the negative consequences of their actions. It is important to identify the reasons for lying and work on distinguishing lies from truth.
My youngest boy used to tell me that he visits a star in the sky each night. Then I asked him: “Is it something you have done last night? Or something you wish you had done?”. Children can often get lost in their imagination and it is important to make the difference between reality and dreams or wishes. According to Jared West, a specialist, and author of papers about rhinoplasty surgery, kids can also lie because they want attention, which lets you think that their self-esteem level might be below. You can help him trust himself more with positive reinforcement and learning new social skills.
And when they want to cover their mistakes, well, it is obvious. They need to understand that accepting that you have made a mistake is more courageous than trying to hide it.
You might start the process to make your kid stop lying with high expectations. While some may be very attentive, some are more rebellious. And this is the difference between my two boys. The eldest has learned that honesty is important and he told the truth always.
The youngest, well, he was more rebellious. He tried to hide his mistakes to not suffer the consequences, but for us was obvious. What began to work were warnings. I used to give him one more chance, to tell the truth. And if I discovered that he lied, he suffered the consequences.
Step#7: Extra Consequences
I usually used to take his favorite toy away for a day or two. It seemed that it was a perfect choice. But, now and then when I caught him with a lie, extra consequences needed to be supported. For example, I took away some privileges, like not watching the TV. According to the advice by one of the research paper help, it is important to note that you need to choose the privilege carefully and do not take away his toys if he is more interested in watching cartoons.
Step#8: Positive Reinforcement
Children need to understand that lying has negative consequences. But they also need to be appreciated when they tell the truth.
Positive reinforcement means praising your children for telling the truth. Empathizing with them and praising their efforts to not lie are keys to positive reinforcement. Like this, they will feel more encouraged, to tell the truth.
Step#9: Re-establishing Trust
If your children have lied excessively, for sure you have lost your trust. This is a natural consequence of telling lies, and they need to understand this.
For example, you can establish a behavior contract. There you can link privileges with honesty. Like this, every time they tell the truth they will gain a privilege back. And when they lie, they lose it.
However, lying can become a much more serious problem for children, and seeking professional help can help you a lot.
Children begin to tell lies from an early age and the reasons are diverse. But identifying them can make the difference. Help your kids understand the difference between truth and lies by playing creative games. Teach them the importance of a good balance between compassion and honesty. Take privileges away if necessary, give him warnings and add extra consequences. And most importantly, be a role model.