Some behavioural experts have argued that lying is natural. In most cases, we lie out of shame, to save face or avoid embarrassments, to brag or due to low-esteem. These make lies inevitable, more or less. Yet, sometimes we lie to avoid danger. Regardless, whatever prompts one to lie, lying is not socially acceptable; as such, it must be discouraged.
Since kids are the leaders of tomorrow, it is often recommended that parents teach their children to avoid lies, which helps them a lot when they grow older. How can you achieve this task as a parent? You may consider below some steps you need to take as a parent:
Show and Live by Example.
Kids look up to their parents as their heroes and for guidance; to inculcate the spirit of honesty in your kids, parents must live by example. You cannot expect your kids not to lie when you, as a parent, lie – especially in their presence. Nor do you have the moral ground to punish your children for lying if you cannot prove yourself otherwise.
Children are more likely to adapt to a situation if they are expected to follow specific rules. When parents make it a practice that lies are prohibited at home, children are more likely to obey the rules; in most cases, they will carry the same rules outside their homes.
Stories about the morals and advantages of telling the truth
Children often identify with the stories; buy them children books that deal with moral issues. Spend time with your kids, for example, when they want to go to bed, read some portion of the book and explain to them clearly, the importance of telling the truth. In most cases, children identify with the message of those books and try to channel their behaviour towards it.
Consequences for lying
Let your children know that every action has repercussions. Same with lying. Kids should understand that lying could put them in danger. Parents must let their children learn that the authorities might punish them for lying. Furthermore, children need to know that no one will trust them if they are a liar. Worse still, when kids often lie, it is difficult for their parents to know when they say the truth. Hence a good reason to stick to the fact. That said, every society must live by examples; it may be difficult to convince children not to lie while authorities they look up to are liars and corrupt.
Learn to be pragmatic without lying
Kids are a product of society, and they interact with others. Sometimes, specific actions might be interpreted negatively by others. So there is a need to take into account the feelings of others. While honesty is vital, sometimes, a little bit of diplomacy can avoid hurting others. Would you allow your kids to tell their friends they hate their faces or find them ugly simply because your kids must be honest? It can be tricky because such a comment might hurt others and even create a negative perception of your kids by others. It will help if you teach your kids to develop some sense of balance between honesty and diplomacy to avoid hurting the feeling of others. It requires a lot of social skills to achieve this balance.
Identify reasons for the lie.
Sometimes, kids lie simply out of fantasies, trying to leave an impression or avoid negative repercussions. It is your duty as a parent to identify why your child has lied and address that. Imagine your child said they saw a ghost yesterday? You could try to explain the difference between imagination and reality, which helps your child differentiate the difference. Moreover, sometimes, kids lie due to low-esteem. They might claim things they never did, to boast. If you can identify the reason behind the lies, you are equally in a better position to find solutions to them. Equally, kids lie sometimes to get out of trouble. Perhaps, they are afraid of being punished; and that leads to lying. Make it known to the kid in question that it pays them to tell the truth rather than lying. It is essential to let them know they cannot get away with lying; instead, they might get less punishment when telling the truth and more when they lie. A condition like this could discourage kids from lying.
Be strict and consistent.
Kids often try to see how far they can go. They want to know where the border is. It would be best if you defined the boundary. Make sure you issue out punishments when they cross the red line. First, try to give a warning to the kids if they lie. If they repeat it, you issue out a punishment. The punishment must reflect the degree of the lie. Be consistent with your discipline.
Reward for honesty
Reward your children for their excellent behaviour. Make it a point of duty to set a reward for honesty and punishment for the opposite.
Praise your child for being honest.
Praising your children when they are honest will encourage them to tell the truth. Do not just do, but say it to the child’s hearing. For example, “I am happy that you decided to tell me the truth about what happened today at school, rather than lying about it.” Statements like this motivate kids.
Consult professional advice
Sometimes, it is fruitful to seek professional help to stop your kids from lying. It is not something you should be ashamed of as a parent. It is, in fact, better to start early to find a solution to the problem rather than wait till the situation is beyond remedy. Don’t give your child the impression that they are “abnormal”. Instead, try to explain the advantages of such professional help.