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4 Reasons Kids Lie and What to Do About It

Kids lie for one of four reasons:

  1. To fantasize. From making up stories about the Tooth Fairy to relatives, little kids like to stretch their imaginations. It’s nothing to freak out over.

  2. To brag. They want to seem more important or get attention.

  3. To avoid punishment. Duh.

  4. To manipulate for power and control. You have to address this at a young age, otherwise, it’s going to be really hard to manage when they get older.

Here’s what to do about it:

  1. Make honesty one of your family rules. Have your kids understand that you value the truth especially when it’s hard to say and there will be a price to pay.

  2. Give positive reinforcement for honesty. Any time your kids have the courage to tell the truth, jump on it with big smiles, hugs, and positive words. For example, “You knew you were going to get in trouble for that and you told the truth. I am so impressed!” Kids who receive positive feedback for doing something tend to want to do more of it. Even though they are in trouble, they still get pumped up because they told the truth. That’s a real step in character and integrity.

  3. Teach about the complexities of truth and honesty. Sometimes honesty can be cruelty. You don’t walk up to people and tell them they’re dressed ugly even if it’s the truth. You have to clarify for kids how to balance honesty with compassion. Everything that is true doesn’t need to be spoken, and sometimes, lying has value. For example, if a bad guy is chasing a good guy down the street and asks which direction the good guy went, you lie to protect the good guy. All of these things need to be specified for kids because lying often isn’t a simple issue.  

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Tags: Motherhood-Fatherhood, Parenting, Personal Responsibility, Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids, Tips, Values
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