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How to Deal With a Child That Lies

     At some point, every child lies. Lying has become a learned and ingrained part of humanity. Adults lie all the time and many do it in front of their kids. They may rationalize the lying as political correctness, yet the essence is still the same. When your child starts telling tall tales your reaction to it will play a large part in how quickly they modify the behavior into one leaned more toward honesty than deceit.

Alfred Adler wrote, "a lie would have no sense unless the truth was felt to be dangerous." When it comes to children, parents need to start thinking about this quote and how it applies to their child, family and relationships. Why is your child afraid to tell the truth, what sort of stimuli have they received from you in regard to the lie that makes the truth so frightening and most important have you ever given your child a reason to lie. Children perceive the actions and reactions of their parents much differently than parents do. While a parent may think they are imposing disciplining, demanding respect and manners, setting limits and boundaries children can often feel stifled by the rules with no real understanding of why they are important or why they are in place. Certainly, it isn't a parent's fault perse that a child lies but more than likely, something from their past experiences has led to the lie you are dealing with today.

The first step in dealing with lying is to allow your child time to talk themselves out of it. It is vital for children to develop feelings of accountability and learning what it feels like to do something wrong is one of the only ways this develops. Let them have their lie, assuming it isn't hurting anyone and do your best to go along with it for the moment. As minutes, hours or days pass; begin questioning your child about the lie. If they swore they ate all their peas and you find them stashed under the couch, present the plate of green peas with some concern about how in the world they got there. Ask your child without accusing and try to give them the opportunity to come up with the truth. When they do, which they will at some point, applaud their honesty and try to make them realize that the truth is not all that bad and that certainly mom and dad aren't as ogre'ish' as they might have thought.

Just as parents need and want to trust their children, children need and want to trust their parents. Even with the truth when it's ugly. Kids can learn that their wrongdoings will be made worse by lying about them and should be led to understand that lying is morally wrong and has far-reaching implications. Screaming, yelling and punishing initially may only cause your child to be more prone to lying because they are fearful of the consequences. Effective discipline actually helps curb a behavior issue, rather than simply swipe it under the rug and steal power from children.

The American Academy of Childhood Psychology notes that children are under a lot of pressure and that meeting the demands of family, teachers, schoolmates and others can be difficult for children. Young children under the age of six still have a difficult time deciphering the differences between fantasy and reality and much of their lying may actually be played out in the truths of the stories they tell. When they do this and you catch on, try to help your child's fantasy character do the right thing and show them that lying is not the only answer. In older children, under the age of 12 – lying is impulsive and usually a means to avoid discipline. These children should have a firm grasp on reality by this point and the lying should be decoded and dealt with immediately. Even so, children should be allowed to come to the truth on their own terms and be able to accept punishment for what they did wrong. One mistake many parents make is as soon as the child tells the truth, they drop the punishment. Following through on punishment is vital, especially in early adolescence and allows children to witness the fact that their actions have consequences.

Psychologists warn that children who lie extensively even in situations that do not offer an element of 'fear' may do so for attention. Often the stories that they tell get them more attention from adults and teachers than the ordinary truth would be. These traits can develop in pathological lying traits and should be dealt with by professionals.

When you have children, you know at some point that the little white lies of youth will begin to rear their ugly head. As children transition from a world where make believe and imagination are encouraged into one that is suddenly structured and seemingly unimaginative, lying may peak. Be patient with this behavior and understand that the lies may not be purposeful or intended even. Simply point out the differences between the truth and lies and ensure that your children feel safe and comfortable talking to you even when things go wrong. The younger you instill this feeling the better off you will be. Most importantly, set an example and try to be honest with your children and in your own life. Even if you are telling a vagrant you don't have any change because you want to avoid the situation, remember that your children are watching you do that and they may not understand why it was okay for you to lie. In these instances, silence can be your best friend. Keep in mind, when it comes to children what they are not telling you – may be the biggest lie of all!

David runs the Professor's House, a site that covers all aspects that happen within the home. If you want to learn more about relationships, décor, family, pets, food or children visit

David runs the Professor's House, a site that covers all aspects that happen within the home. If you want to learn more about relationships, décor, family, pets, food or children visit

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David runs the Professor's House, a site that covers all aspects that happen within the home. If you want to learn more about relationships, décor, family, pets, food or children visit

Posted on 2013-05-18, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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