Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

Why Kids Lie and what can you do about it?

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

Whether it's to preserve privacy, to avoid embarrassment or even to be polite, everyone lies at some point in their lives. Whether it's for privacy, to avoid embarrassment or even to be polite, everyone lies at some point in their lives. Lying is a sensitive subject and talking about it with your child from an early age is important for your child to develop a critical and discerning sense about lying and the consequences it can have.

a71bc83f0375f2ab51d628609ade60d18e931507.jpgCredit to Pixaby

Why do children lie?

In the course of his development, the child tends to confuse reality and imagination. At this stage, children may tell stories that are not entirely true, without even realizing it. With the appearance of symbolic capacity, from the age of about 2 years old and motivated by strong emotions, some children can already assert something that is not true in order to get rid of something they consider negative or to get what they want.

However, this does not mean that children understand what is true or false. Such an understanding, with all the complexity that this subject implies, requires a capacity for reflection that the child does not acquire until much later. Even if the intention to lie does not yet exist, it is important that a dialogue takes place from an early age, taking into account the child's level of maturity, in order to be able to explain that lying is to be avoided and may even have consequences for other people.

As children grow up, they develop a sense of what is true and what is false: "By improving their cognitive thinking, their ability to identify their feelings, to put themselves in the other person's shoes, to think strategically, children can better discern what is true and what is false, as well as their consequences, beyond immediate punishment.

What is the purpose of lying?

Little ones may choose to omit the truth, and even lie, either to avoid criticism or an unpleasant situation, or to attract attention, or to absolve themselves of guilt or to earn rewards, for example. At this point, the parents' intervention is fundamental for the little one to understand that lying is not the best solution.

In the case of very young children, a lie can also represent a confusion between reality and imagination, appearing as a response to something they have not understood or have misinterpreted. Therefore, it is important to be careful to ensure that the lie was intentional, in order to gain some personal gain.

In addition, lying can be a way to hide anxiety and frustration, or a reproduction of adult , since we are role models and children tend to copy what they learn from us.

How do we react to lies?

Set an example

Parents need to remember that children observe everything adults do and that they generally act in the same way. So be very careful! Needless to say, it's not right to lie and at the same time pretend you're not available so that you don't have to answer an unwanted phone call.

Stay calm

Children may feel more vulnerable and scared if they realize that their parents are angry, so it may be harder for them to make the mistake.

Don't create traps to contradict the child

If you find that your child is lying, talk openly with him or her about it. For example, if parents know that the child has not done his homework, instead of asking, "Did you do your homework," they can say, "I saw that you didn't do your homework. What happened?".

Explain the consequences of not telling the truth.

The child needs to understand that lying can break the trust that others have in him or her.

Be prepared to hear truths that are different from what you want

The child needs to feel safe to tell the truth. Teach him from early childhood that the best option is always to tell the truth, regardless of what it may imply. An honest relationship between parents and children creates a stronger and more loyal bond, so build a close relationship with your child so that he or she can trust to always tell the truth.

Don't punish him

The child may come to the conclusion that a lie is useful as long as it will avoid punishment. Some children may still think of more elaborate ways to lie to avoid being found out.

Give him a chance to correct the mistake

The opportunity to repair damage is usually much more effective than punishment and will certainly contribute positively to the child's emotional maturity.

Help him think about other possibilities instead of lying

Parents can help their children resolve their conflicts by always looking for real solutions to their problem.

Don't call him a liar or make a scene in front of peers or other adults.

The consequences of being called that by parents on a child's psychology can be very negative and generate problems of self-confidence and self-esteem, and even distance in the relationship with family members.

Be careful not to invade the kid's privacy

Sometimes parents accuse their children of lying because they don't want to talk about a certain subject. Keeping secrets is allowed and privacy must be respected. The important thing is for parents to be available and receptive so that when children feel ready, they can talk about these issues if they want to.

Work on his self-esteem

Lying can be a defense mechanism in some cases, especially when it comes to problems related to self-esteem, personal acceptance and friendships. To prevent this from happening, parents need to be attentive to their children's behavior, and explain to them that lying does not have good consequences and that it's not the right way to establish themselves in a group or to get someone's attention.

Parents play a very important role by being honest. They have the greatest influence when it comes to committing to the truth and should teach children from an early age the importance of being honest. It is important to note that lying cannot be used as a recourse to get rid of a situation and that lying cannot be an easy solution on some occasions.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.