As parents, we are quick to get angry or scold our children when they don’t tell us the whole truth or hide something that we think is significant. But, what if I was to tell you that your children aren’t always lying with some kind of malicious intent? What if they aren’t just showing an act of defiance? What if it’s not always on purpose?
Many times, children lie to cover up their mistakes so they don’t get into trouble. Sometimes, they tell lies because they are stressed, want to avoid conflict or simply because telling a lie makes them feel more in control of the situation. At times, lying can even signify a new stage in children’s development because it shows that they are starting to distinguish between what is real and unreal.
Whatever the reasons behind not telling the truth may be, it can be quite upsetting and frustrating for parents when their little one lies. And, rather than digging deeper to find out the reason, we do the opposite of what we should. We scold and get angry at them, so they continue to hide the truth from us.
Instead of punishment, there are other ways to encourage honesty in our homes. And, foremost, it is important to find out what’s the reason behind the behavior so you can respond to it in the best way.
- Model the truth.
You are your child’s first role model so it’s extremely important to live your life by the truth and set an example to your children who are observing your every move and listening to every word you say. If your children see you lying, even if it is little white lies, it will make them think it’s okay to lie. Remember, little lies will often lead to bigger lies so lead your lives by being truthful and your children will soon follow.
- Correct their mistakes.
It is important to point out to your children that you have caught them being dishonest. Letting their lies slide by will make them think that they are getting away with it so, take it as an opportunity to teach them and also ask them what made them want to tell a lie. Was it because they were scared? Explain how dishonesty harms a relationship and breaks trust between people who once trusted each other and also talk to them about what they would do differently next time.
- Reward them.
When they tell the truth, say a few words of praise to recognize and appreciate them telling the truth. A little bit of encouragement and recognition goes a long way!
- Don’t punish.
Punishing will only teach them to lie and protect themselves the next time around. So, rather than punishing, let them know that we all make mistakes. It’s also great to ask them what reaction they were expecting from you which made them lie to you in the first place. And, let them know you love them even if they make mistakes.
- Share stories often.
Children, especially young ones learn plenty of lessons from listening to stories. It very well could be that they don’t understand what lying is or what consequences it can have. So, parents can try telling stories that encourage good morals and in which characters model telling the truth.
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ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what to do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognized in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia, and Australian Financial Review.
As a child, she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult, this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
This is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.