As they start to grow up, our ever truthful children start to lie. But have you ever wondered why? Is it the fear of being punished or the fear of hurting others or the fear of appearing wrong in front of others that makes him/her to tell lies? Whatever the reason, we as parents are hurt and are disheartened when we discover that our children have started lying to us. There is a profound sadness deep in our hearts at this discovery.
Once you know that the child is lying, the first reaction we have is to get angry or frustrated and think of ways to punish the child. But wait a second. Don’t be too fast in taking a counter action. Give yourself few minutes. Calm down and think why your child has lied. Maybe the fear of this instant angry reaction has stopped him from telling you the truth.
Consider the age
Take into consideration the age of the child. The truth varies depending on the age of the person. What may be the truth for you might be a fantasy for a three year old, a perception for a five year old but in fact lie for an eight year old. For instance if your three year old tells you that she has seen a flying horse from the terrace, she isn’t lying but conjuring up images from the books she has read or movies she would have watched. But at the same time if your eight year old lies about studying when he was busy playing on his PSP, that is a different matter altogether because he knows that he has in fact lied to save himself from getting scolded.
Set an example
Children learn what they see around them. So set an example at home with you being their role model. Create, as much as possible, an honest environment at home. Be truthful to them and let them know that you do not lie to them and that you expect the same from them. Think before making any commitment to them. If you can’t do what they are asking of you, gently let them know why you can’t do it. Don’t make false promises. They will learn to do the same.
Make yourself dependable
Why do children mostly lie is because we parents are usually not around to sit and talk to them heart to heart. They tend to lean towards their friends and peers to pour their heart out. Thus they get into the habit of hiding stuff from us. Try and make them understand that you are there for them and they can come to you anytime when they want to talk about anything. This kind of openness in the relationship creates honest relationship. They know you wouldn’t get angry without listening to them fully or punish them without reason.
Know the reason before reaction
When you catch your children lying, don’t react instantaneously. Find out why they have lied. Every lie has a reason behind it. Maybe the child is trying to protect you or others from getting hurt or maybe he does not know how to express himself and just lies or tells the partial truth. Make sure you know the reason before reacting. When I tell my son that I wouldn’t scold him if he tells me the truth, he feels secured and is able to tell me the truth of why he did what. And in future also he will be able to come to me and own up his wrongdoings.
Encourage your kids
Encourage your kids not to lie by setting some house rules on kind of behaviour you will accept from them in the house. Make sure every family member follow the rules including the elders. If your child is lying to get attention or portray himself bigger and better than he is, praise him more at home. This will help in building his self-esteem and self-worth. Bear in mind not to over praise your child lest he gets egoistic and boisterous.
Punishments and rewards
As the children get older, lying can become a habit, if not curbed early. Tell them lying can never be ok. There will be consequences of lying. Hand out simple punishments that make them realise their mistake. Holding back their favourite activity or grounding them at home does have an effect on the kids. Also, reward your children when they have been honest with you. It can be a pat on the back, or an ice cream or any other of their favourite treat.
Instil in them the value of being honest and truthful. Make sure to let them know the dark side of lying. Tell them if they continue to lie, people would lose trust on them and would never believe them ever. And as for the younger children “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” fable works best each time.
So get going moms on your journey to right parenting!