Handling Lies Among Little Children

Kids are likely to lie. Should parents get upset when a child lies? On the one hand, the longer their disruptive behaviour is tolerated, the firmly rooted it becomes. On the other, freaking would only make things worse because children are less likely to trust you and open up about key information in future.

When kids grow up, they use their discretion on what to share with parents and things to keep to themselves. But as parents, what should be our role in this? It is imperative to catch them young and explain the difference between lying and telling the truth.

So, what is lying? It is simply hiding facts or correct information for fear of getting reprimanded. So, why do children start lying? Do they know what it means to lie, or they use it as a fun tactic to draw attention?

Well, I have observed some of the following reasons why kids lie.

1. Fear of getting scolded by either parent if they share correct information.

2. Letting go of an object/toy because of which they lied.

3. To avoid confrontation with a parent. For example, if a parent asks the child to do something repeatedly, they may lie in order to avoid confrontation with the parent.

4. Fear of getting judged or rejection by peers, teachers, etc.

5. For fun sake or to seek the attention of either parent.

6. Sometimes, a lie is prompted by an elder or a parent as a measure to not hurt someone’s feelings.

How can we ensure that they know what lying is and how it feels when we speak the truth?  Well, as a mom, I too face instances when my kids hide information. Coercing makes them share correct information. But till what age can this approach work? Ultimately, it is crucial for the child’s overall growth to know the difference between the two.

We all are humans, and so are kids, the little people. As they grow up, they may not want to share everything with their parents, but at least they would know what they are doing. Therefore, it is important to catch them young! Here are some of the dos and donts of streamlining the behaviour.

1. First things first, never react when they share the truth. Truth is not easy to hear. Keep calm and process the information shared by the kids and respond accordingly.

2. Lying is simply hiding information and is not joking in any way. For instance, whenever I step out of the house, or I’m busy with chores, my little ones catch hold of a device and start watching videos. If I catch them or if they hear me walking towards the room, they behave as though nothing happened. The tactic I use is to smile at them and ask, and they share exactly what they were up to. Receptivity gives them the confidence to share.

3. Don’t be stern when they tell the truth. Sometimes we are helpless and react unnecessarily. This will do no good, and they wouldn’t want to come back and share anything with you. Rather, encourage them to say whatever they want to. Eventually, whether it is the truth or a lie, they’ll come up with everything.

4. Show them that you are on their side. Unless you do this, you’ll continue to stay in a different team and will get correct information only in piecemeal. It’s obvious to not agree with everything they say or share, but at that moment you can keep calm and process what they have to say.

5. Storytelling is the best way for kids to absorb any concept. Tell them stories about the topic of how it feels, to tell the truth. Encourage them to weave the moral of the story themselves. It’ll help them identify with some great values as they share their perspective on the situation.

Learning and unlearning is a vicious circle. Parenting is all about reinforcing value system time and again. Children are children, and they tend to forget just as adults do. Be patient and repeat yourself a million times if required to instil the correct value system.

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