Truth or Lie – What Do I Do When My Child Lies To Me?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard ...How Can We Make It Easier?

For A Child Telling The Truth Can Be Hard…How Can We Make It Easier?

Has your ever child lied to you? Honesty is important in all relationships. How can we encourage our children to tell the truth even in situations where they might get into trouble by being honest?

Being honest is tough for children. Think about it from their perspective, if you just did something you know will get you into trouble and now this big angry adult is asking you to tell the truth about it, what do you do? Lie and say someone else did it or tell the truth and face the consequences from the angry adult? Hmmmmm, in the mind of a young child I think the natural instinct would be to protect themselves with a fib and keep out of trouble. Where does that leave the parents? Angry or disappointed their child won’t tell them the truth and unable to trust what the child tells them next time something happens. Not the best basis for a parent-child relationship especially as their little girl or boy eventually grows up to be a teenager.

Everyone will try to fib their way out of a situation or embarrassing moment at one point in their lives. Why would it be any different for a child? Whether it is over accidentally breaking something, playing sick to get out of school, getting into something they shouldn’t have (Mommy’s makeup or Daddy’s tools), or who started the fight that led to the lamp shattering on the floor. It is scary for a child to admit their part in what really happened because they fear the consequences from mom and dad.

When my kids were little I used to read them the story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” by Aesop (an ancient Greek story teller) where a boy herding sheep keeps crying for help about a wolf attack on the sheep until finally no one believes him when there is a real attack on the sheep. I found videos with similar stories to let them watch (now there are even videos online). Afterwards we would discuss the importance of telling the truth and how it was more important to mommy and daddy that they tell the truth than what actually happened.

When a situation would come up be it something broken or a mess mysteriously appearing out of nowhere I would call the kids in and we would talk about what happened. I always made it clear to them that if they told me the truth right away the consequences would be less severe than if I had to find it out on my own. If I caught them in the lie everything tripled. Time out or cool-down time was longer, privileges were taken away and they would have to do an extra long service for me to make up for betraying my trust on top of paying for whatever was broken. If they could look me in the eye and tell me upfront what happened the cool-down time would be waived or shorter, no privileges would be taken away and no service would be required. They may still have to contribute to replace what was broken depending on the circumstances but because they were brave enough to tell me the truth the consequences would be much less severe.

My kids very quickly learned that it was easier and less effort to be honest with me than to spend their time making up for lying to me. Knowing they wouldn’t get into as much trouble if they told the truth has built a trust between us over the years. As my children became teenagers it has kept the communication open between us so when more difficult challenges came up like skipping school or getting into trouble with a friend they knew I would hear them out before judging and be more understanding because they were honest with me.

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The information on this site is based on the personal experience of the author. There are no guarantees of a perfect method to raise a child, it is all trial and error. Please feel free to try some of the suggestions on this site and let me know how you make out. If you would like to use any words or pictures from this blog please contact me for written permission. © 2013

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