How to stop your child from lying all the time (and why they lie in the first place)

The first time a father discovers his son in a lie, it is enough to make the heart of mothers and fathers and guardians ache. It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken plate on the floor or the candy that went missing from the drawer; most mothers and fathers want to raise their children with integrity and in an environment of truth. And when the children are dishonestit is easy to feel that an essential value in the relationship has been broken.

But here’s the good news: lying is part of normal child development and, in fact, it is common among young children.

Related news

Children who lack confidence may tell grandiose lies to appear more impressive.

Related: Narcissism in children, problems and solutions

Why do children lie?

The little kids unaware of the moral implications to lie This is because it is often difficult for them to distinguish between what real and the imaginary when they are young, and they just want to please the older ones.

As the website of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP): «To young children (4 to 5 years old) they like to tell stories and make up stories. This is a normal activity since they have fun hearing and making up stories. These kids often confuse reality with fantasy a little bit.»

For her part, Dr. Becky Kennedya clinical psychologist and mother of three, says: “The line between fantasy and reality is a bit darker for [los niños] of what could be for [los adultos]”,.

And he adds that kids will tell a lie whenever they think telling the truth will get them in trouble. They see lying as a way to stay close to their parents, ensuring their biological survival Y psychological safetywhich are necessary for a child to grow and thrive.

“From an evolutionary point of view, our children need to feel safe with us, which means that they need to feel that we want them close and that we love them,” he says. «If telling the truth will make them feel ashamed and alone, they will feel compelled to lie to keep feeling good right now.» Children with anxiety or depression may lie about their symptoms to take your attention away

What should you do when your child lies?

As mentioned above, it is difficult for young children discern between good and eviland punishing them for acting badly and getting them used to reacting out of fear could lead them to take the path of lying even more seriously.

For example, when a child knocks over another child’s block tower and insists he didn’t do it, Kennedy recommends that instead of trying to catch him in a lie or accuse him of being dishonest, try to listen to him to rebuild trust:

“Tell them, ‘Oh, you didn’t shoot it down. If someone did, and I know it’s not you, I guess something happened that caused that kid to push his brother’s tower down. I wonder what that child has been feeling. If he finds out who that boy is, Could you tell them I won’t be mad? There will not be punishment. I just want to know what’s going on so we can prevent that from happening again.’”

There are likely to be difficult emotions behind a child’s unwanted behavior. If a child believes that her parents are interested in what they feel inside, they are more likely to tell the truth.

Kennedy uses the example of when an older brother hits his younger brother and lies about it. By sending them to his room instead of understanding why the incident happened, they will believe that parents only care about what happens externally and they will not see them as a good child. Parents should not tolerate lying or hitting, but should try to find out why it happened.

In some cases, the child might be lying about what happened between him and his brother to get attention. In cases like this, they are playing at being victims to get what they need.

That child will be less likely to liebecause they have learned that their parents see them as a good child and are willing to listen to the more complex feelings related to the behavior,” says Kennedy.

Then there’s that moment all parents experience: one parent tells a child they can’t do something, then the child tells the other parent they can, like when a child tells dad that mom said they could play in the iPad when mom actually told them no. Kennedy says it’s not about manipulating parents, but that the child struggles to regulate his disappointment by less screen time.

«The lie happens to avoid the anguish of want Y lack«, Explain. «Instead of getting mad that they’re trying to trick you, talk to them that you understand they must have had a hard time hearing no, and that they must have been very disappointed.» To further complicate matters, in certain situations parents may encourage children to tell a white lie to avoid someone’s feelings.

What happens when the lie goes too far?

If this approach to trying to understand why a child is lying doesn’t really stop their dishonesty, it’s time to let children know that their actions will have repercussions. According to Dr. matthew rouseclinical psychologist at Child Mind Institute, the punishment does not have to be excessive, but it should address the lie as well as what they were lying about. For example, if a teenager claims that he has been doing his homework and hasn’t, he should be punished for his dishonesty and forced to complete his work.

But Rouse also points out that kids need to know that telling the truth reduces punishmentsuch as when a teenager lies about going to a party but then calls a tutor to take him home because he is intoxicated. It’s a fine line to walk when a child has lied about where she was, but then he did the right thing by not driving drunk. Parents can let children know that there will be a reduction in their punishment due to their utmost honesty.

Sometimes, the onset of the lie is sudden and intenseRouse says. «It’s a new thing where they were pretty honest most of the time before and then all of a sudden they’re lying about a lot of things,» she says. This, of course, worries parents. But if caregivers can understand why children lie and be prepared to deal with the problem, the truth can come out.

While a younger child may conjure up an elaborate story about how he couldn’t have kicked a younger sibling, older children may outright lie about doing their homework.

How to make honesty a value

Dr. Carol Brady told the Child Mind Institute that parents should let their children know that perfection is not an expectation. Brady suggests a «truth check»in which after a child has lied, a parent gives them a few minutes to reconsider their response.

Parents might also say something like: “YouI’m going to ask a question and maybe you’ll tell me something I really don’t want to hear. But remember, your behavior is not who you really are. I love you no matter what, and sometimes people make mistakes. So I want you to think about giving me an honest answer «.

Brady does not recommend this method for a chronic liarbut it could go a long way in establishing the importance of telling the truth and having integrity.