One of the most frustrating things in the world is to ask your child a question, and for them to respond with a lie. Of course, kids exaggerate and tell little white lies, but when it surpasses white lies and moves into the pathological territory, it becomes a new problem entirely.
Oftentimes, lying is one of those things that can be hard to navigate. We want to reprimand them, but we also don’t want to handle the situation incorrectly and make it worse. So, how do you deal with a lying child? While there isn’t a magic fix-it solution (I know, I’m sorry) there are some simple tips to employ.
1. Get to the root of why they are lying.
There are different types of lies. Your child may be lying because they have a feeling they do not know how to express, they may be lying because they are fearful of getting in trouble, or they may lie because they are feeling inadequate. This does not mean you should not deter the behavior, but in understanding, you can help them to avoid this behavior in the future.
2. Call them out.
As soon as you hear the lie or have a feeling they are telling a lie, nip it in the bud. Do not wait for them to finish their story. Don’t give them a chance to change things around, simply say, “I know you are lying and that is unacceptable.”
3. Do not set them up.
It might be tempting to set them up, so you can catch them in a lie. Do not do this. It only encourages bad behavior.
4. Discuss reality.
Sit down and have a talk with them about what truth and reality mean. Help them to understand how lies hurt people and explain everything in-depth.
5. Emphasize empathy.
Teach your child empathy, by helping them to understand how their actions impact others. Label feelings in your home and use examples of other people who are expressing their emotions. Explain how people get hurt when lies are told.
6. As soon as you sense them straying from the truth, step in.
If you are picking up on a lie, do not let them continue. Immediately point out that you know they are lying and ask them to tell the truth.
7. Discuss trust.
Have a discussion about how trust is earned. Explain that when they lie, people lose trust in them and won’t believe anything they have to say. This will help them to understand how lying can actually work against them.
8. Be consistent.
Always be consistent with how you handle lying. Do not allow it one day and the next flip out. You must consistently reprimand and address it in the same way if you want the behavior to stop.