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"One morning we woke up to a clogged toilet. When I asked if anyone knew what happened, my 3-year-old hugged my legs and said, “Mummy, last night a big bad man came into our house and stole an apple and took some bites, then flushed it down the toilet!”
My husband and I went to attend my daughter’s annual function. He usually stays out of the town and is not able to attend the school events. My daughter's friend kept looking at my husband strangely. Finally, she said ˜I thought you said your Papa was in jail? I was stunned. My husband has never been in jail! I guess my daughter cooked up a story to explain his absence."
My daughter started lying frequently and most of the time she would cook up stories just for fun, and she'd never admit that she made up a story and it was not true. At first me and my husband used to laugh, but latter I started feeling unsettled. Why did my daughter lie?. Was she lying to avoid punishment or just to have fun— I couldn’t understand. When your child lies to you, it hurts. As a parent it made me angry and I took it personally and started questioning my parenting style. I felt like I can never trust her again. Why does lying cause anger, worry and pain for parents?
I realized that my child's honesty is the connector between what’s happening to her in the outside world and what happens to her at home. As a concerned parent one should hold their kids responsible for lying but the mistake we parents make is when we start blaming the kid for lying. When you tell your kid “You lie” and “You are bad boy/girl” that very moment you are promoting your kid to more lying. If your child thinks you think he’s “bad,” he’s going to hide the truth from you even more, because he doesn’t want to be bad. Even though they are lying, kids don’t want to disappoint their parents.
Knowing the types of untruths kids tell at each stage and why, can help you gently guide your own toward a level of truthfulness that's appropriate for his age.
Toddlers: First lies
"One day Neha asked her 3 year old son why he did potty in his pants, and he told her that it wasn't him. He said he was watching TV and his little brother walked up to him and pooped in his pants. He said, I tried to stop him but he just kept pooping. Such self-serving lies are the first kinds of lies many young toddlers try out. As any mom of a toddler or preschooler can tell you, kids as young as 3—sometimes even 2—will tell very simple lies, denying they've done something or in order to gain something for themselves. It doesn't make sense to punish toddlers for truth bending, since they don't get that what they're doing is wrong. "If a two-year-old plucks leaves and says that her imaginary friend did it, the best response is to say, 'The plants too have feelings'. "Rather than asking 'Did you break the vase?' say, 'Look, the vase got broken’. If you make an angry accusation, you'll get a lie.
Preschoolers: Small people, big stories
This is the age of invisible friends, monsters with horns and talking rainbows. "My daughter wrote all over herself and the wall with a pen. When I asked why she did it, she said: I didn't do it, the pen floated and wrote on me and the wall'..
Preschoolers' cooked up stories can be pure play, or sometimes wishful thinking. It's not really a lie. If a particular story troubles you, it's important to keep things in perspective. If children seems happy and has realistic relationships with the important people in their life, one should not be worried about their fantasizing as these stories boost creativity. That's what children did before there was TV. Remember that what seems weird to adults may simply be a child's way of processing new ideas.
Schoolkids: When lies have reasons
"No, I don't have any homework left to do." "No, I'm not watching TV." "Yes, I cleaned my room”. At this age children most of the time take the path of least confrontation by telling their parents what they want to hear. A child having problem with maths might say that he has no math homework, to avoid going to school a child may tell a lie about stomach ache or head ache. Children lie for quiet understandable and even forgivable, reasons. For example, they're afraid of how disappointed you'll be or the punishment they'll get. In an effort to be liked by all, kids may bottle up strong feelings and replace them with silence or a web of pretty lies. Before you send your child to his room or take away his TV privileges for the day, try to find out what drove him to lie, and take his reasons into consideration.
Teens: Growing fast and stretching the truth
Teens master the skill of covering details of their lives they once freely spilled about. Don't be surprised if your child keeps mum about things she would have shared with you a year or two before. This new secretiveness isn't dishonesty or a sign that your child is up to anything wrong. In fact, it reflects her growing maturity. An occasional lie about homework, chores or tooth brushing is not unusual at this age. The best response usually is to simply express your displeasure. But if a tween lies chronically, he might need professional assistance to sort things out. The best way to steer your teen toward greater honesty? Set a good example yourself (no dodging his younger brother's age to get cheaper movie tickets) and talk to him about how lying can damage your credibility and relationships.
For example We understand that it’s wrong to drive fast and there are consequences. But we don’t understand that it really hurts anybody and that it puts people at risk. It’s the same with kids. They know lying is forbidden but they don’t see it as hurtful.So a kid will say, “I know it’s wrong that I ate a 3 slices of cheese. But who does it hurt?” “I know it’s wrong that I traded my chocolate for a comic book but it doesn’t really hurt anybody. I can handle it. What’s the big deal?”
When they don’t see it as hurtful, there are two different value systems operating: the family’s value system that says this is forbidden and the kid’s value system that says if it’s not hurting anybody, what do you care? The kid rationalizes his actions and justifies his behavior with the idea that it doesn’t hurt anybody. The outcome is a dishonest situation. A lie. Talk about this issue in a controlled way: “What were you trying to achieve by doing that?” Not “Why did you lie? You know how much lying hurts me.” Talk about it after things have cooled down, not in the heat of the moment. Explain what will happen if the child lies again.