As parents, do you want to teach kids not to lie?
We all know that truth is the basis of honesty and as parents we feel worried about the honesty of our children when they tell lies.
A few months ago, my then two-year-old lied to me. He peed in his pants and when I asked him did he pee in his pants? He confidently answered no its water. I was utterly shocked by his reply. I couldn’t take my head around the fact that at such a young age he is telling lies with such confidence.
So scared about the honesty of my child I researched about lying in kids. In the course of my research, I found some interesting answers and some solutions.
Why Do Kids Lie
The first things come to mind regarding the behavior of lying in kids is why they lie in the first place. There are several factors which contribute to a child’s habit of lying.
Lying is a Developmental Milestone
The ability to lie is, in fact, a developmental milestone. Around the age of two years, neurotypical kids acquire this ability to portray an imaginary situation which is not a reality.
So if your toddler is starting to tell lies instead of worrying you should be happy that his cognitive development is well on track.
Your Child Might Be Fantasizing
Little children do not know the difference between fantasy and reality. Your toddler might say things which they might believe as reality but in fact, they are just fantasizing.
Your child is Just Bragging
When kids grow up a little, at about 5 to 6 years of age, they know the difference between fantasy, a lie, and truth but they might tell lies to impress their parents, peers or teachers. These kids are just bragging to get the attention of the people around them.
Your Child Might Be Learning The Behavior From The Surrounding
If a child sees a parent, sibling, friend or any other person lying and then getting away with lying he or she might quickly copy the behavior.
Your Child is Scared of the Consequences
You might have overreacted when the last time your child made a mistake. So in order to avoid the consequences this time, your child might take the help of lying.
Somebody Has Labelled The Child as a Liar
If your child has lied to you and you label the child as a “Liar” there is a great chance that that child will lie a lot more.
Children are not born with self-esteem. They get their self-esteem from their environment. If a child listens to a comment, “You are a Liar” again and again it becomes part of his/her own self-belief. Such children do not feel shame in lying as they feel that that’s what they actually are.
How To Teach Kids Not To Lie
Now we know some of the very common reasons why kids lie, let’s dig in and try to find some solutions which are helpful in teaching kids not to lie.
Never Label Your Child As a Liar
No matter how many times your child has lied make sure that you will not label him or her as a liar. Once children start to believe that they are liars there is not much you can do to stop the behavior. Always make sure to keep the behavior separate from the person. Always curb the urge to give comments like, “You always lie” or “I know you lie”.
Do not Overreact When Your Child Makes Mistakes
Make it a motto to never overreact when your child makes a mistake. When the child will know that they can always approach you after they messed up, they will never take the help of lying to cover up the mistake.
Just Ignore It
When your toddler has just started to lie, a simple strategy could be simply ignoring the lie and not making a fuss about it. Just respectfully replace the lie with the truth, there is a likelihood that after getting no attention from you your child will mend the behavior by themselves.
Catch Your Child Being Truthful & Show a Lot of Appreciation
Catching a child being good and giving a lot of appreciation is one of the most effective methods to teach a child good behavior. So whenever your child is being truthful catch them in the act and be specific in showing a lot of appreciation.
Instead of saying “you did a Good Job”, be specific and try saying “You are being so truthful, I am so proud of you”.
Make it a point to praise that act later on also.
Use Age Appropriate Stories To Highlight The Importance of Truthfulness
Young children learn a lot from stories. Highlight the importance of truthfulness with the help of age-appropriate stories. You may also make up your own stories to convey the message.
Be a Role Model
As a parent, it’s your duty to model the best behavior in front of your kids. Be truthful yourself. Your children might not listen to your preachy lecturing but they will always observe you and follow what you do. When your children will know that you are truthful then they will unintentionally follow you and become truthful over the course of time.
Truth is the basis of honesty. When parents encounter their children lying for the first time they might be worried about the honesty of their children. But there are few very innocent causes of lying in children.
For example, Lying is a developmental milestone in a child’s life like sitting, standing and walking. Children might also lie to impress their parents, peers, and teachers. Similarly, toddlers might be lying because they do not differentiate between reality and fantasy.
Kids also lie if parents overreact to their mistakes or label them as liars. If parents are themselves lying there is a great likelihood that kids will also copy the behavior.
By implying some strategies like being a good role model, using age-appropriate ways to teach the importance of truthfulness, parents can teach kids not to lie.
In order to teach kids not to lie parents must never label their children as liars. Similarly not overreacting to the mistakes made by children also help in building the comfort level for the child to always tell the truth.
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