Parenting: Dealing with Lying, Part I: Why Kids Lie and What to Do
By Jonathan D. Sherman, LMFT
Lying is often a normal part of a childs development. However, if not dealt with effectively it can turn into a habit that can cause problems for them at school, at home and even carry on into adulthood.
Why children lie
There are many reasons why children lie depending on their ages. Very young children (ages 3-4) do not always separate fantasy from reality. Also, at this age, they may appear to lie when actually they have simply forgotten, especially if it has been a while since the incident happened.
Younger children (ages 5-6) are starting to get a better grasp of the differences between fantasy and reality. They also have a better understanding of what is right and wrong where they can feel guilty when they do something inappropriate. They may begin to lie to avoid punishment or being disapproved of. They may also lie to get attention.
Children ages (7-11) know the difference between fantasy and reality. Children at this age lie to avoid punishment or chores. They also are becoming more socially aware and may lie to be polite. They may also lie to avoid disappointing their parents or teachers.
Teenagers understand the difference between fantasy and reality and consequences for lying. They are also adept at it. While a lying teen is certainly disconcerting not all teen lying is indicative of them being involved in forbidden or dangerous acts. Often they tell lies to avoid embarrassment, protect their privacy, to be more independent, to get what they want, to avoid doing chores or receiving consequences.
What parents can do
Prevention first is the rule. Here are some suggestions for establishing an environment where honesty is encouraged.
Even after all your best prevention efforts remember that most kids lie on occasion. Use this as a teaching opportunity. Do not ignore it or punish the child. Instead address it by disciplining the behavior. The distinction between punishment and discipline is an important one that I will address in an upcoming column. Here are some suggestions for disciplining the lying behavior.
Have you tried these or other suggestions in the Greatness in Relationships column? Let me know how it worked at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more articles and tips at bardos.net/resources
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This article provided courtesy of Bardos Relationship Consulting 801.787.8014 bardos.net