Call them fibs, whoppers or straight-up untruths: However you label them, kids are likely to lie somewhere along the way. While a younger child may conjure up an elaborate tale about how she couldn’t possibly have kicked a younger sibling, older kids may flat-out lie about doing their homework.
Sometimes the onset of lying is sudden and intense, reports Matthew Rouse, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “It’s a new thing where they were pretty truthful most of the time before and then suddenly they’re lying about a lot of stuff,” he says. This, of course, is concerning to parents. But if caregivers can understand why kids lie and be prepared to deal with the issue, the truth can come out.
To help your kids avoid lying in the first place, let them know that truth reduces consequences
For instance, if teens have been drinking at a party, the parent will want them to call to be picked up. But kids know there also has to be a consequence for the drinking. “There’s a hard balance to strike between having the open dialogue but also setting appropriate limits when necessary,” Dr. Rouse says.
In this situation, where lying would have been easier, when parents are doling out the consequence they can also praise the child for telling the truth and tell them it makes them more trustworthy. They might also reduce the consequence, such as letting kids know they’re taking their phone away for a day instead of a week.
Dr. Rouse adds one caveat: Children and teens should not think consequences are negotiable. “Sometimes the kid will say, ‘But I told you the truth,’” he says. “They’ll get manipulative, saying, ‘This is just making me want to never tell the truth again.’” Parents shouldn’t give in at that point.
What parents shouldn’t do is corner your child.
Putting a child on the spot can set him up to lie and don’t label your child a liar The wound it creates is bigger than dealing with what he lied about in the first place. He thinks, “Mom won’t believe me.” It makes him feel bad about himself and may set up a pattern of lying.
Read more at childmind.org