There comes a time when your tiny lovable kid suddenly realizes that he or she can distort the reality and feed you all kinds of fibs. They sometimes do it with glee as if challenging you to swallow them. Some of them may be so gross that you can only gape at the temerity. Undoubtedly, it’s up to you to stop the flood and stifle what can become a pernicious habit.
But before you set about coping with this unsupportable behavior, you would do well to try and understand what drives your child to tell these monstrous lies.
Truth distortion comes in various forms: they pretend to have forgotten what you said; they tell only a part of the story; they think up unbelievable stories that they themselves understand are hard to take in. Some of them get so into it that soon you stop believing them at all.
When you see that it grows on them and spreads onto small things, it’s time to address the issue in all seriousness. Lying is a challenge to parents which, if unchecked, can later become a pattern underlying the child’s social behavior.
On the other hand, lying for the child is another way of trying to define his or her individuality and, therefore, a logical phase of growing up. Psychologists even refer to it as a “normal developmental achievement.” It’s a way to socialize, although, of course, a faulty one. (After all is said and done, we recourse to it ourselves at times!)
If your child goes overboard with lying, common punishment or shouting them down won’t help. In many cases it only aggravates the situation, pushing the kids to invent more deliberate and complicated lies, trying to beat you in the game.
The true solution lies in establishing an atmosphere where the child is called upon to be truthful and can admit to all the fibs without being afraid of a punishment. It can best be done if the reasons for the kid’s lying his head off are clearly understood and analyzed. The following information can help you with that.
First of all, expect your child to lie
At about age three the child’s perceptive abilities have developed to the point where they understand that they know things that other people don’t. If they have put a toy away where other family members can’t see it, for them the toy isn’t there. It seems like a great game to play with adults.
Reasons for lying are the same for children
No use in concealing it, we adults are lying on a regular basis, hiding our small faults and meaning to spare our friends and acquaintances unpleasant truths. So are our children, trying to smooth over troublesome situations and sometimes wishing to make life easier for us. All children will lie at some moment or other, do not regard it as a sure sign of gross misbehavior.
Parents set an example in lying
Besides feeding white lies to our family and friends, we are not above telling a direct lie to our children, much for the same reasons. It is not only about Easter Bunny and other mythical creatures, but rather serious things about the visit to the doctor that won’t be hurtful or the toy shop not working today.
Thus we think that we solve the current issue quickly, but we fail to realize that in the long run children grow to understand that they were lied to. They further realize that lying is a common occurrence and you can use it to get out of difficult situations.
Ignoring attempts at lying won’t get you anywhere
When your child gets onto a wild tale of what could never have happened in the first place, you are tempted to turn a deaf ear to it and make out it’s too silly to be discussed. Then we just channel the kid’s attention into another direction.
The best thing is to point out to the child that we understand they’re lying and aren’t buying it – this way the junior won’t have it fixed in his or her mind that they can manage our thoughts successfully by telling tall stories. It’s advisable to make the kid see that the reality is one thing and the way he misconstrues it is another.
Avoid sticking on names
When your child comes back from a walk or from school with a story that doesn’t hold water, it doesn’t mean you can call them liars. You can’t. That will be sticking on labels, and the children may grow seeing themselves as established liars. As they start to think of themselves this way, they will be sure they no longer need to be truthful, and have got a kind of a warrant to keep lying.
Call their bluff as gently as you can
A great means to divert the kid from the temptation of telling one fib on top of another and do it without punishment is to show the culprit without undue emotion that you know he’s been feeding you lies.
First define it as a lie, then get around to the truth. Tell the child you understand that he or she wishes it were really so, but since it isn’t, it’s better to accept the reality. If the kid omitted washing the hands, go and wash them together; if there is disorder in the room after they swore they had tidied up, help them start putting the plan into action.
If you see a lie coming, stop it
Should you happen to recognize the symptoms of a lying bout – the kid is fidgeting, bending the fingers, looking away – interrupt them gently by saying something like “I will be happy to hear what really happened.”
Explain why lying can be very damaging
Sit together and have a long talk about it. Find a time when the atmosphere is not pressing or chafing in any way, and show how constant lying can break up relationships.
Get them to understand that truth may be unpleasant, but it’s not punishable, while constant lying undermines the trust and love necessary for good relations.
Recognize chronic lying as a grave issue
If your child keeps lying just for the hell of it, calling in professionals becomes a necessity. Professional help should engage not the child only, but the whole family. You may not have noticed it, but actually there must be some factor within the family that set the child using lies as his or her everyday mode of reacting to the situation in the family circle. The child may not feel safe in being truthful, or there is something in the family atmosphere that makes him or her want to hide behind the web of lies. Adults ought to be aware of the underlying factor inciting lies.
To sum it up
Bear in mind that the truth thrives in a secure relationship. The kid won’t want to resort to lying if he or she feels safe and has a strong bond with you. Openness and sincere attachment find it easy to go along hand in hand.