Dealing with a child that lies can be quite a difficult and distressing situation for any parent. However, it is important that parents understand that children do lie – it is not a life or death situation, and so has to be dealt with calm.
Focus on the deed, not the lie
In most cases, children lie to hide a misdeed from their part or to avoid punishment. Perhaps they do not understand the notion of lying and hence do not realize that it is wrong. Parents should encourage truth, and make the child realize that his behavior was unacceptable, but refrain from punishing for the lie rather than the misbehavior which the lie was used to cover up. Punishing for a lie might only result in creating more lies, hence avoid that. Instead, focus on the misdeed that forced your child to lie and make him understand that what he did was wrong.
Take care that you remain calm while confronting your child. Relax, take a deep breath, and think about what made your child resort to lying. Control your anger, and do not frighten the child. Do not blame or shout at him. Remember, you were a child once, and you have lied too most likely. Take your time and think of why you had lied as a child, and how your parents dealt with it. Do not take the lie personally, and come to terms with the fact that your child has not been honest with you, and plan how you are going to deal with it. Also, make sure that the child did indeed lie, before confronting him/her. A false accusation and punishment may have devastating effects on your child, so you should take care to avoid such situations at any cost.
Listen to your child
Listening is perhaps the most vital skill that any parent must possess and develop. It is very important for the child to realize that you give importance to what he has to say. Be patient, and listen to whatever your child has to say about his actions. Try to understand the motive behind the lie. Give the child an opportunity to confess, and do not resort to harsh punishments after confession. Remember that the child lied to avoid the harsh punishment in the first place, and hence if you punish even after he has confessed, you might just be encouraging him to lie more in the future, albeit unintentionally.
Talk to the child
Talking is as important as listening. Do not ignore the lie; speak to the child about it. Let him know that you are aware of the truth, and make him understand that lying is unacceptable behavior and that you are not happy about it. When the child confesses or tells the truth, appreciate it. Sometimes, children tend to lie because they fail to differentiate fantasy from reality. Talk to them and help them distinguish between fantasy and reality. Have a talk about the consequences of lying, and make them understand how lying affects your family and relationships. This not only make the children realize their mistakes, but also make them more comfortable with talking to you and telling the truth in the future and thus prevents further lies.
Be vigilant, not suspicious and be your child’s role model
Be vigilant on the situations that compel your child to lie, and try to avoid them. However, make sure to not appear suspicious. Refrain from cross examining each and every move of your child, as this will only lead to the child believing that you do not have faith in him and will lead to the child being uncomfortable around you. Do not lead your child to believe that you are judging his actions, as this would make him self-conscious. Also, never label or call your child a liar. Labeling a child as a liar will have a very negative impact on his psyche. Remember, your child tends to believe whatever you say. If you call him a liar; that is what he believes himself to be. Be consistent in your behavior in front of the child. If you do not want your child to lie, you should take care never to lie in front of him.