Why Do Children Lie?

Like any mother, I would like my child to grow up with good values, honesty included.  Earlier today, I saw my daughter wearing a tiara we got her for a cousin’s wedding. She was part of the entourage and we thought she would look absolutely adorable wearing a tiara. That was years ago and I know  that I stored that tiara in my cabinet. Today when I saw her wearing it I asked her where she got it. After a millisecond of hesitation, she said she got it in her toy storage. I asked her again, “Did you get it from my cabinet?” “No”. I asked her two more times… that was when she broke down and cried on the bed.

image from parentmap.com

I get so frustrated when things like this happen. I don’t want her to grow up a liar. How can I correct this disappointing habit of hers while she’s still young?

I did a bit of research on the net to find out why kids lie and this is what I found out:

Kids lie to prevent any punishment. They lie to cover things up in hopes of stopping punishment or reprimand that may result from their wrong doing.

Kids lie to test their parents’ response including its constancy or lack thereof.

Kids lie to gain attention. The child with the better story gets more audience.

Kids lie to manipulate a situation. “No, I didn’t get a piece of candy earlier, can I have some now?”

As moms, should we be alarmed?  Should we panic now that our child is heading down a path towards being a pathological liar? Don’t worry, apparently all is not lost. Kids start lying at around three years old and this escalates towards school age of four to six, when they get even better actors and better at lying.

There is one thing we parents should remember when our children lie: stay positive. Don’t freak out (like I sometimes do) and have a meltdown. Talk to your child and emphasize the positive values. Instead of highlighting the act of lying, stress the importance of honesty and how it makes you and the whole family happy and proud when only the truth is said.  You can also incorporate some stories to hammer in the value of honesty. The classic “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” never fails to drive the point. 

Of course, as with everything else in parenting, consistency is key.  Be consistent in getting your child’s attention whenever he or she lies so that’s they’ll know.

Good luck!

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