Kids And Lying: What You Need To Know

White lies, falsehoods, fibbing, tall tales and untruths all mean the same thing and that is to not tell the truth. Children lying can make their parents feel angry, betrayed, and annoyed. Before any fingers are pointed, consequences assigned or unhappy words are spouted, it's important that parents understand why children lie.  

An Honest Mistake

Sometimes when children lie it is a misunderstanding. They may be asked what they did in the afternoon and if they don't know the correct words, they'll use what word seems right to them. They are trying to be truthful, but lack the language skills to do so.

Children who are still in elementary school don't always have a firm understanding of the difference between reality and fantasy. They may have spent the morning thinking about purple monkeys with yellow polka dots. When the adult asks what they've been doing, they may say they were playing with purple monkeys. They don't mean to lie, but they haven't quite grasped the idea of reality versus their vivid imaginations.

Fear Is A Powerful Motivator

A child who just broke their parent's favorite coffee cup may be frightened of the repercussions they may be facing. In their minds, if they lie then perhaps they can escape their parent's anger. A scared child will lie to protect themselves from what they perceive as a consequence they can't deal with.  

Peer Pressure

Like fear, peer pressure can be a powerful motivator. Classmates or neighbors may push each other to lie to parents about where they are going to be, who they will be with and what they plan to do. As young children grow into preteens and teens, peer pressure is one of the biggest challenges kids face.

How To Deal With Lying

After establishing the reason for lying, it's time to figure out what the punishment should be. This is a place where a parent must be firm without going overboard. Don't argue with your child, simply tell them that it's not okay and set down a punishment. The trick is for the consequence to make your child uncomfortable, but not so much that they will lie again. Extreme punishments will encourage your offspring to lie to you again.

Understanding the reason for a child's lie should always be the first thing a parent does, before thinking about consequences. Parents should strive to teach their children that they prefer honestly and reward the child for being honest with them. When children and parents have a strong, trusting relationship, then the child is less likely to lie.

For further assistance, contact a local psychologist, such as Carol Vinson PhD.