One Fact About Lying That Will Help You With Your Kids
This one truth can help you deal with lying in your kids:
Dishonesty always occurs under pressure.
Kids need internal character to combat the external pressure. For example, some lie to escape punishment. They fear what might happen if they tell the truth, so they try to protect themselves. Children sometimes think that lying is the easy way out, but, in fact, it often makes life more difficult. The child who is prone to lie in challenging situations demonstrates poor character. If not dealt with, deceit gets worse.
Other times, children lie to get ahead or appear better than they really are. When children don’t like something about themselves and would rather be someone different, they sometimes cover up their perceived faults with a veil of dishonesty. In the end they are saying, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me.” Another reason children lie is to gain attention. They exaggerate stories or make things up to impress others. After all, the person who tells a good story is listened to and appreciated. If a child doesn’t have a real story to tell, the temptation is to create one. Lying can be a way to gain attention by having a bigger story than someone else.
Lying is an Indication of an Underlying Problem
It’s hurtful, confusing, and frustrating for a parent when a child lies. Instead of reacting in anger, take some time to recognize what’s going on and then begin to develop a plan that focuses on integrity. Teach kids that lying always occurs under pressure. The person who lies doesn’t have the internal strength to face the challenge. Some children lie to get attention, to get something they couldn’t get honestly. They might want to be accepted or get out of trouble. Each one of those examples represents a pressure that’s greater than the internal character. Kids who lie often need specific strategies for addressing the pressure that’s placed before them. The first step is to understand the underlying issues. The lying is wrong but the overall solutions may involve training other areas of a child’s heart. The child who wants attention needs to learn how to get it by serving others instead of fabricating or exaggerating a story. The child who tries to avoid getting into trouble needs to develop a confidence that mistakes can be turned into lessons with the right response. Working on these other issues will complement the direct confrontation needed for the child who lies.
Lying Often Requires a Multifaceted Solution
For more information about a plan for working on honesty take a look at chapter eight in the book Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.