So now that you have clicked the title of the post to read this article, I am assuming you are confused because your young child is caught telling whopping lies frequently. He might have come home and shared the day’s stories which later you discovered was all a concocted potion. Some children even have a habit of quietly pocketing the stuff they like. I have a friend whose daughter can pick minute details of the day, lace it with spices of exaggeration and serve with a tangy topping of lies to her daddy. My friend hides in crannies of her home to save herself from embarrassment as everyone thinks the innocent child is blurting out the truth.
I wrote this article because I have experienced the agony and ostracism as a child. I was in 2nd standard and children had to take a Craft test where they were expected to embroider various stitches on a piece of cloth in the class. Despite repeated attempts I was finding the whole Craft saga very annoying and intricate. I took a pre embroidered cloth piece from home and planned to present it to the teacher as my class work. Obviously, I was caught red handed. When I think about it now, I feel pity for all the adults around (including my teachers, Principal and parents) for mishandling the whole issue. There was a mountain made out of a molehill, instead of counselling or explaining the adverse effects one-on-one I was punished, reprimanded, made to stand outside the Principal’s office and was an object of ridicule and mockery for the whole school. What a rut! Let me tell the readers, as an adult I hold my morals and idols very high in life, honesty is my way of life and nothing in life can deter me from speaking a truth. So speaking a lie at 7 years of age had no effect on my character at later stages of life. But the mishandling and over reaction by school and family has for sure indented my psyche for life.
Have you faced similar instances which left you baffled as to why your child is lying. Here are the possible reasons of children lying –
Children love to experiment – Children love to venture into unknown lands, they enjoy the adventure ride more than any adult and experiment with the world through lying.
Children are creative– lying is an Art, you need to be a storyteller with good imagination for lying. Children have unleashed imagination, their minds know no limit. So lying is like a creative expression for them.
There is no concept of morals for young children– Children don’t know the concept of right and wrong or truth and fiction from birth. It is the job of parents to guide them, till the time they have received proper guidance regarding a situation they do whatever they feel like doing.
Children love to see you awestruck– Children love the big Haawww!!! Of mommies. It amuses them.
To safeguard themselves– when they know they have done something wrong they will speak big lies without getting caught. God has gifted a natural instinct to all creatures to safeguard themselves and children use this instinct beautifully.
Natural part of growth process– Lying is an imperative part of growth and development. No child ever grows up without lying atleast once.
Gain attention or impress others– It is the best way to garner attention- tall claims from a bigmouth definitely catches the eyeballs .
Manipulate people/situations– Rushing to granny and telling her that mamma has granted permission to eat more sweets- is a general situation in most homes. Lying is used to manipulate people and get things done their way. Smart, isn’t it?
Before trying to nip it in the bud, it is important to know that it is common trait among young children. There is no need to get anxious, your child is not going to grow up to be a Mogambo of Mr. India or Gatsby of the Great Gatsby . So, just chill! I am not suggesting parents to encourage the habit of lying, there are definitely ways to control and discourage this habit-
Punishing doesn’t help– Punishing, threatening and scolding doesn’t help. It is better to talk alone and never scold your child in front of anyone.
Do as you preach– be honest to your child, confess and apologise for your mistakes and never change stances as it confuses the child. Telling your child that eating junk food is bad for health, then enjoying eating your favourite burger with fries at McD simply confuses them. Children in such situations are unable to trust parents.
Calm down and don’t react immediately– Avoid lecturing and try to move away from the situation, calm down, think about it and then react. Impulsive actions mostly do more harm than good.
Keep the doors open but do not expect confessions– If you know that your child is telling a lie then explain the difference between truth and fiction but do not expect child to confess and apologise. Your positive reinforcement will leave an impact on the child.
Explain the repercussions and talk about trust– If a child is doing it despite all efforts then let him know the repercussions he will have to face the next time. Like- doing extra chores, refraining the child from his favourite activity for a day. This has to be decided by the mother as each child is unique and a mother knows it best.
Encourage and praise honesty– Simple positive reinforcements like a high five or a pat on the back, rewards and special treats make ‘honesty’ enjoyable.
Do not label the child as a liar– Labelling is a big No. What he has done is out of sheer innocence and not with a schematic mind. So, chill!
Read stories– Books convey the message in a subtle way and they have a calming influence on children.
Here is a list of few books on being honest and consequences of lying-
Liar, liar pants on fire