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What to Do When Your Kid Always Lies

What to Do When Your Kid Always Lies

You hear the crash and run into the living room. Your favorite vase is scattered across the floor in several pieces. Your child is standing over it and the only person in the room. “Did you break my vase?” You ask, knowing full well the answer. He shakes his head. “Not me, mommy.” While your 6 year old may not be on the road to pathological lying, he has crossed the line into the lying zone.

According to Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s book: “Nuture Shock: New Thinking about Children”, 98% of children believe that lying is wrong, yet 98% of them lie to their parents[1]. Yikes! But before you order that lie detector to install in your house, guess what- they adopt their lying tactics from you!

Why Kids Tell Lies

Kids witness their parents lying and see them escape from it

Kids aren’t the only ones who lie – parents tell them lies all the time, like Santa Claus bringing presents on Christmas Eve and the Easter Bunny hiding eggs in the garden for an egg hunt- seriously- how would a rabbit even pick up an egg, much less carry it somewhere? Their parent may even lie when they lovingly greet Uncle Marvin and later, out of his company say how they really don’t like him because he drinks too much. Kids notice this stuff. And they pick up on it. A child whose parent lies will lie themselves because they view it as acceptable behavior[2].

Kids lie so as to take the shortcut to meet others’ expectation

Your child loves you and loves being loved by you. They may believe getting a “F” on that math test will make you think less of them and they will hide the paper or even throw it out so that you won’t see it. When you ask about the test, you may get a mumbled “I did fine” or “Okay.” They are lying because they don’t want you to be disappointed in them.

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Punishing them for lying only makes them lie even more

No one wants to be punished. No TV for a week, loss of their favorite game system or worse. If you find your best necklace hiding in their sock drawer and they know that owning up to taking it means facing a week or more of being grounded, they will try and think of a way to wriggle out of facing the consequences for their actions. Kids will lie in order to circumvent a punishment.

Kids lie to protect someone

Though younger kids are more apt to tattletale on friends, families and any child they catch doing something wrong, older kids will lie to protect their friends from facing punishments and consequences. They don’t view this behavior as wrong[3] if they are protecting someone from getting into trouble.

People Who Don’t Lie Are Less Stressed

Life is difficult enough without getting caught up in a sticky web of lies. Studies[4] show that people who lie less – refraining from even those little white lies, have better mental and physical health. They face less illnesses and feel less stressed. But if kids continue to lie, this can lead to lying as an adult and also cheating.

How You Can Stop Your Child From Lying

Give your child a better chance at a healthier and happier future by nipping their lying habits now.

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Avoid lying when your kids are around

Start your kids off by becoming a good role model. Stop fibbing. Curb those white lies. Let ‘honesty is the best policy’ become your family motto. And yes, investigating with your child exactly why there is a bunny associated with eggs may be eye-opening for both you and your kid.

Let them know that lying is wrong

Little kids may not know that lying is wrong. They may see it at home or at school. And they are certainly bombarded by advertisements promising better lives and happiness if certain products are used. Sit down with them and talk about how lying affects lives and why honesty is important for everyone.

Create a loving home environment

Giving your child a safe-haven from the world will help to develop a mutual trust. And when your child trusts you, they are less likely to lie. Communicate with them on all subjects and let them know that they can address any topic with you- openly. If you personally feel that you can not discuss a something with them- like sex- have a trustworthy relative or family friend with whom they can broach any subjects that you cannot. Sometimes it’s easier for your child to talk about very personal subjects with someone who is not a parent.

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Don’t punish them for lying

Know that lying is not the problem. Find the reason why your child felt the need to lie. Was it to protect someone, for fear of disappointing you, fear of punishment or something else. If you direct your attention onto the lying then according to Life Coach Allie Irwin at The Science of People, you are “teaching that lying is bad but also that getting caught is bad too.”[5] You need to teach them that honesty is the best way. Praise them for their honesty when they tell the truth, even when it means they have to face the consequences of their actions.

Control your reactions

When your child tells a lie and you know it, like if you found alcohol or other substances in their room, and they deny knowing about it, do NOT go ballistic. Keep calm. Control your knee-jerk reactions. If it’s serious and you unable to keep your cool- walk away and don’t discuss it until you can control your emotions. When you are calm enough to address the situation, give them the opportunity to tell the truth again- with no repercussions for lying. Losing your cool can spiral the incident into slammed doors and heightened secrecy. Keeping cool may open future communication avenues between you and your child.

Don’t set them up to lie. Don’t play the interrogation game.

Think before you ask a question. Asking if they took out the trash may be setting them up for an auto-response lie. Instead avoid the questions that garner yes/no answers and reword them. Instead say: “I noticed the trash is full. What should we do about it?”

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Let them know that mistakes happen

No one likes to make mistakes, yet everyone does. All people are imperfect. Let your child know that the “F” on the math test is not the end of the world- he may start showing you all of those test papers! Let your daughter know the broken vase was an accident and accidents happen. Show your kids that they don’t need a reason to lie.

Beware of This Mental Disorder: Pathological Lying

Pathological lying or lying compulsively is a mental disorder sometimes linked to a childhood trauma, like an abusive or dysfunctional family, or they lived in fear and needed some way to protect themselves[6]. Some children lie impulsively and can’t control their lying, others like to create fantasy friends and imaginary lives to escape their own.

If not addressed, pathological lying can become habitual and escalate out of control. Pathological lying is detrimental to a child’s development. Seek the advice of your doctor, therapist, or counselor if you suspect your child has a pathological lying disorder.

So next time your child starts to spout a lie, stop them with a helpful “are you sure about that?” reminder to keep them on track, keep your cool, let them know everyone makes mistakes, and that they can discuss anything with you.

Featured photo credit: Lisa Runnels (Greyerbaby) via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Amazon.com: Nuture Shock
[2] ScienceNews.org: Telling Kids Lies May Teach Them to Lie
[3] ScienceDaily.com: The Truth about Lying: Children’s Perceptions Get More Nuanced with Age
[4] ScienceDaily.com: Lying Less Linked to Better Health
[5] Allie Irwin. ScienceofPeople.com: Why Children Lie
[6] ChildhoodTraumaRecovery.com: Pathological Lying: Its Link to Childhood Trauma

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Sally White

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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