Parenthood is full of those moments when you realize your child has been dishonest. The basic fact is that all children lie, and that a child can begin lying as early as three years old – although this behavior is most commonly observed in children who are four years old or older. Rather than being concerned if your child continues to lie, a study conducted by the University of Waterloo discovered that 96 percent of young children lie at some time, with four-year-olds lying on average every two hours and six-year-olds lying on average every hour of their lives.
Obviously, we don’t want a youngster who’s lying all over the place, but how do we deal with it in a positive way? In this article, Parenting Success’s resident parenting expert Louise Hoffman-Brooks explains some of the reasons why your child lies and how you can respond positively to those lies.
Why Do Children Start Lying?
It’s not uncommon for young kids, as young as four, to begin learning how to manipulate other people’s thoughts and feelings through the use of their words or non-verbal cues.
Because it appears to be a superpower to them, it is only natural that they desire to use it.
Reasons Children Lie
For example, you may have a 4-year-old who lies, while you have a 9-year-old who does the same. For the same reasons why grownups may be inclined to tell a lie, children are also likely to do the same thing. It could also be used as a strategy to avoid unpleasant feelings such as shame, fear or guilt.
Children between the ages of 5 and 7 also engage in tale-telling, in which they embellish the reality or allow their imagination generate various conclusions that can make the story more unbelievable and rewarding.
In our experience, children’s perceptions of reality are more fluid than ours. In their lies, we often find the seeds of what is important to and going on in our child’s life. Imagination is a powerful tool for children.
That we can’t always be brilliant at something and that other people can beat us is being communicated through this lie/fantasy by the youngster who always talks about how he came first or was the strongest, despite the fact that the truth is otherwise.”
What Should Parents Do About Lying?
To avoid moralizing our children’s lies, we must be careful as parents. Let us not forget that lying is enticing to ourselves as much as to those who are honest with us.
Falsehoods can be divided into white lies and grave ones, and we regard them as a continuum of lies. Each of us has a unique connection with lying, one that is shaped in large part by the way our parents dealt with lying to us as children and other moral issues.
Instead of hurting us, children lie to gain our affection or protect themselves. They do so because telling a lie gives them a rush. Depersonalizing lying and telling yourself that it’s not an insult to you is a smart approach. Your child’s lying is a sign that you should do something about it.
Instead of Being Enraged, Be Curious
- Why do I get so worked up?
- What may be the problem with my child?
- What may be the reason for their dishonesty?
If the thought of your child swiping a cookie makes you enraged and want to administer punishment, consider your own childhood memories. What was it like for you when you succumbed to temptations? If so, how did you get treated?
Having normal sensations like temptation and want, but being able to control ourselves in the face of these feelings, is a strong influence in the way we behave to our children in similar situations.
Many times children mimic the behaviors of their parents, even if they don’t know it. As a result, we take our frustrations and feelings of guilt and failure on our children.
Getting curious helps us see things more clearly and empathize with what our child is going through at this very moment.
Knowing the Rules and Being Tempted — It’s a Delicate Balancing Act
The ability to maintain this level of impulse control in children is extremely difficult since their executive functioning skills are underdeveloped and their ability to “take a break” has not yet been completely realized.
While it is inevitable that kids will make mistakes, you may prepare yourself to remain calm and collected by following the following steps:
- Letting out a sigh
- It is important to remember that your youngster is still learning.
- It’s not your duty to punish your child for feeling stressed, tempted, or afraid.
What Can We Do to Prevent Kids From Lying to Us?
This is critical if honesty is a priority for you: ensuring that telling the truth always pays off. Several studies have shown that children lie most frequently to avoid unpleasant feelings and results. Children regularly find themselves in circumstances that necessitate our intervention because of their lack of self-control and brains that are designed for pleasure and exploration.
A youngster is naturally wary of telling the truth if the consequences include being disciplined, getting in trouble, or losing privileges. Look at your own behavior and see how you normally respond to undesirable behavior to help you reveal the truth and come clean. Children are constantly acquiring new knowledge. We have two options for getting kids to behave well and make excellent decisions: using fear or instruction.
You will be more likely to receive a call from your child seeking assistance and direction if they have done something they shouldn’t have and believe they are in trouble if you can assist them in recognizing their true intentions behind the lie as well as enabling them to make better decisions.
What Should Parents Not Do if Their Kids Lie?
Using the right words when describing and defining our children can have a profound impact on their perception of their self-worth and self-image.
- “You mustn’t be a liar”
- “Stop telling lies.”
These statements frequently place agendas on our children that are significantly less harmful. If you lie because you’re afraid of our reaction, you run the risk of being accused of having a flaw in your character.
Our curiosity should be piqued if we notice that our child lies frequently and tells friends and adults things that are just not true.
- What is the emotional health of my child?
- How confident is my child?
- Does my child have a sense of self-worth and self-awareness? Is this the case with certain people? In the playground?
It may be tempting to add our own anger and judgment to the mix when confronting such behavior, but this rarely leads to a solution. A falsehood can be embarrassing and embarrassing for both adults and children, therefore we must proceed with caution.
However, if we are truly interested in understanding the motivations behind someone’s lying, we often need to listen more than they are willing.
- “I’m curious if…”
- “Do you understand why…?”
This is a great way to begin a sentence.
Keep in mind that making children feel bad never results in better behavior.
What Would You Say to a Parent Who Is Frustrated by Their Child’s Lies?
Be Calm and Take Control of Your Emotions
Getting your feet on the ground is the first step. Be calm and realize that it is normal for youngsters to tell the truth. Just as it’s common for grownups to embellish the truth to some degree.
You can’t help but smile and say “wow – that sounds great” when your pre-schooler is describing the day’s events and each one is more imaginative than the last. “Imagine if that actually happened” In the meantime, let your child’s imagination go wild instead of branding him or her a deceitful liar. Many young children go through this phase, and once we allow them to use their imaginations, they eventually self-correct and realize that “really, this isn’t how it really happened.”.
Do Not Call These Falsehoods
If you see that your younger child (and older) lies a lot, don’t be angry; instead, be curious.
- Is my home a safe place for my child to tell the truth? If not, what am I doing wrong?
We are more likely to raise children who feel comfortable to admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their acts if we are ready to look inside ourselves and understand that a person’s moral compass is one that develops through time.