Why your child lies…and what to do about it
Sometimes you should ignore them; others should have consequences
It’s as simple as remembering when YOU were a kid. You told lies, fibs, whoppers – call them what you will – for a variety of reasons. Beth Arky of Child Mind Institute names a few:
- To see what will happen, plain and simple
- To gain approval, from peers to adults
- To direct the focus off themselves
- Because they speak before they think
- Because you tell them to, e.g. “tell your grandmother how much you loved the sweater she gave you”!
CMI’s suggestions range from ignoring certain lies to applying direct consequences, depending on the circumstances.
Matthew Rouse, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute says, “When it comes to attention-seeking lying, generally speaking, it’s best to ignore it. Rather than saying harshly, ‘That’s a lie. I know that didn’t happen to you,’ I suggest a gentle approach where parents don’t necessarily have a consequence but they’re also not trying to feed it a lot of attention.
“This is especially true if the lying is coming from place of low self-esteem.”
But Dr. Rouse doesn’t hesitate to encourage consequences appropriate to the youth’s age and the significance of the untruth.
“If he’s hit another child and lied about it, there’s a consequence for the lying and also for hitting,” he concludes.
You might also enjoy this Parenting article (from where the photograph comes) about types of lies according to age group.