experiment with lying. Younger kids, between the ages of
3 and 7, often blend fantasy and reality. They may
invent imaginary companions who become the guilty
parties for various household mishaps. These imaginary
friends are blamed for anything from stealing cookies
to breaking mom's vase. Kids usually pass through this
phase. By school age, if your child is still relying on
lying as a coping skill, you may want to look at some of
the possible causes and learn to work with your child's
behavior in constructive ways.
Why Kids Lie
Some kids lie because
they feel that they are not meeting their parent's
expectations. Are you putting too much pressure on
your child to
perform academically, athletically, or in other
ways? Are your expectations realistic for a child
consequences are too harsh. A child may lie to avoid
a punishment that he feels is unfair.
Children may lie to
protect a friend or family member.
A child may lie to
preserve his self image.
Role model honesty.
Remember, children watch adults closely. Even when
we tell small lies, we teach our children to do the
Try not to immediately
place blame. Instead, focus on the problem. When we
immediately explode at our kids, we may cause panic
and they may lie as a coping mechanism. Try to
gently find out what happened. Your children are
more likely to share the truth when you stay
calm and don't overreact.
Make sure that your
child did truly lie. It's devastating for a child to
be punished when they are telling the truth.
Don't punish your child
for telling the truth.
Make sure that your
consequences are reasonable and not too harsh.
If Your Child Lies...
Give yourself some time
away from your child to calm down and think about
how to handle the situation. Tell your child that
you can better talk with her when you are calm. If lying is a consistent
problem, it may be a trigger for you. Exploding at
your child will only worsen the situation.
Follow through with
consequences even if your child eventually tells the
truth. Let him know that you appreciate his honesty,
but you still have to dole out a consequence for the behavior that caused
After resolving the
immediate situation, talk with your child about the
future problems that lying can cause. Clarify your
family values and beliefs regarding lying.