How to stop my child lying

September 26, 2022

We would all love our children to be models of honesty. However, many of them seem to enjoy a fib, and that can be distressing for parents. So why is this happening? In reality, there are many potential reasons: to enhance self-esteem, test out a new behaviour, a lack of impulse control, or to get attention off themselves. Whatever it might be, there are plenty of things parents can do to encourage truth-telling in their little ones. 

  1. Reward the truth

Often, lying will be the easier option for your child than confessing an embarrassing truth. So, when children do tell the truth, praise them for doing so. Perhaps you can grant them several minutes more on your tablet, as a reward. 

But you should be careful that your children are not using truth-telling as a tool to simply get what they want. The aim is for them to tell the truth naturally. Rewards should not be given if you suspect this is happening.

  1. Allow for truth correction

Let’s say you have been told by a teacher that your child has been unkind to one of her classmates. Often children will jump into a lie to avoid punishment. If you sense this is happening, you can give them the chance to tell the truth. 

For example, a parent could say, “I’m going to make a cup of tea and give you 10 minutes and then I am going to come back and ask you again. If you want to give me a different answer, you won’t get in trouble. We can call it a truth check”. Children, afraid of consequences, will often fess up rather than continue to lie. Careful, though - it is important that children don’t associate the truth with fear. Try to be as calm as possible. 

  1. Be affectionate

Children might worry that if they tell a truth that reveals poor behaviour, their parents might be angry or even love them less. You can encourage truth-telling in them by reminding them that you don’t expect perfection, you will always love them regardless, and that everyone makes mistakes. Once they reflect on your unconditional love, children are far more likely to tell the truth.

  1. Give them more time

As mentioned before, lack of impulse control, especially for children with ADHD, drives a lot of lying. Those who struggle with this may say, for example, that they have finished their homework, without even looking down at their sheet. So, it is important to teach impulsive children to slow down and check whether what they are saying really reflects reality.

  1. Be a role model

Children are wonderful imitators. So don’t behave the way you don’t want them to behave. Even if it’s a white lie, like lying about your child’s age at the museum, your little one will imitate what they watch you do. 

  1. Seek professional help

If you sense that your child’s lying is pathological and causes problems for them or their peers at school, the above tips may not be enough. In that case, you may want to seek professional health to address their lying.

How to stop my child lying

September 26, 2022

We would all love our children to be models of honesty. However, many of them seem to enjoy a fib, and that can be distressing for parents. So why is this happening? In reality, there are many potential reasons: to enhance self-esteem, test out a new behaviour, a lack of impulse control, or to get attention off themselves. Whatever it might be, there are plenty of things parents can do to encourage truth-telling in their little ones. 

  1. Reward the truth

Often, lying will be the easier option for your child than confessing an embarrassing truth. So, when children do tell the truth, praise them for doing so. Perhaps you can grant them several minutes more on your tablet, as a reward. 

But you should be careful that your children are not using truth-telling as a tool to simply get what they want. The aim is for them to tell the truth naturally. Rewards should not be given if you suspect this is happening.

  1. Allow for truth correction

Let’s say you have been told by a teacher that your child has been unkind to one of her classmates. Often children will jump into a lie to avoid punishment. If you sense this is happening, you can give them the chance to tell the truth. 

For example, a parent could say, “I’m going to make a cup of tea and give you 10 minutes and then I am going to come back and ask you again. If you want to give me a different answer, you won’t get in trouble. We can call it a truth check”. Children, afraid of consequences, will often fess up rather than continue to lie. Careful, though - it is important that children don’t associate the truth with fear. Try to be as calm as possible. 

  1. Be affectionate

Children might worry that if they tell a truth that reveals poor behaviour, their parents might be angry or even love them less. You can encourage truth-telling in them by reminding them that you don’t expect perfection, you will always love them regardless, and that everyone makes mistakes. Once they reflect on your unconditional love, children are far more likely to tell the truth.

  1. Give them more time

As mentioned before, lack of impulse control, especially for children with ADHD, drives a lot of lying. Those who struggle with this may say, for example, that they have finished their homework, without even looking down at their sheet. So, it is important to teach impulsive children to slow down and check whether what they are saying really reflects reality.

  1. Be a role model

Children are wonderful imitators. So don’t behave the way you don’t want them to behave. Even if it’s a white lie, like lying about your child’s age at the museum, your little one will imitate what they watch you do. 

  1. Seek professional help

If you sense that your child’s lying is pathological and causes problems for them or their peers at school, the above tips may not be enough. In that case, you may want to seek professional health to address their lying.

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