Case in point: a child who lies about their grades could indicate that they feel embarrassed. Do they need academic help? Are they worried that you’ll get angry?
If you avoid getting mad, you can turn this situation into an opportunity to build your child’s trust in you.
Understand the reason for the lie
The next thing to do if a child lies is to understand why he or she did it. And to do that, you need to consider factors such as their age, the situation, and how frequently they lie.
Experts say kids lie because they:
- Don’t want to get into trouble; hence they are “covering up.”
- Want to make their story more exciting.
- Still can’t distinguish between what’s real and fantasy (common in very young children).
- Want to persuade you to give them something they want (“At home, mommy gives me two cookies.”)
- Make themselves look better.
- Want to get attention.
- Don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
- Are curious about how you’ll respond.
Respond appropriately and with facts
After knowing the reason why a child lies, experts say you need to respond appropriately.
For instance, toddlers who lie are not trying to be deceitful. They may just see that you’re upset and want to make things better, so they don’t tell the truth.
When you catch them red-handed, remember to respond with facts.
If you believe their imagination is running wild, help them distinguish between fantasy and reality.
Important: Please avoid labels like “liar” as this may affect how children will view themselves in the future.
Emphasize that they are secure and loved
Deal with an older child that lies in such a way that they know they are secure and loved. One way to do this is to focus on communication and consequences rather than punishment.