When your child is caught lying, you might initially be any combination of surprised, angry and disappointed. But what should you do once the initial feeling calms? That is the question we are looking at today. If you need advice about what to do when your child is caught lying, you’ve come to the right place!
Why Is Your Child Caught Lying?
Before you decide what to do when your child is caught lying, it’s very important to understand why kids lie. The simplest explanation is that kids just don’t understand that lying is hurtful to others. They may understand that something is strictly forbidden, but they don’t have the ability to really comprehend that doing it hurts others’ feelings. If you ground your child from video games for a day but he decides to go behind your back and play them anyway, it’s because he doesn’t appreciate that the sneaky behavior hurts you and harms your trust level in him. Kids are great at thinking, “It’s not gonna hurt anybody if I…”
Above all, talk to your child about the lie. Find out the story behind it. Is she protecting herself or someone else? Or just trying to get some attention? When you know the story, the appropriate reaction is easier to figure out.
What To Do When Your Child is Caught Lying
The number one thing parents do wrong when their child is caught lying is to give the lie too much power. If your child feels like lying is the way to get back at you, she’ll wield that power whenever possible. So teach your child that honesty is the best policy, but don’t stress it so much that the lying becomes a power struggle between you.
The best thing to remember is that children are going to tell lies, simply because they haven’t matured and don’t understand that lies are hurtful. Help your child understand why the lie hurts your feelings, in a calm and simple way.
Any consequences for lying should be about the lie itself. For example, if your child breaks a rule and then also lies about it, there needs to be a separate consequence for the broken rule and the lie. Tell your child that if they break a rule and then tell the truth about it, there will be one less consequence. And consequences should always be simple things that matter to your child, or they don’t have an affect.
Always remember when your child is caught lying, to refrain from labeling your child as a liar. Labeling leads children to think that you won’t believe them, and that only encourages continued lying. In anything, it also helps to parent by example, so be honest with your kids.
Resource: Child Mind Institute