A child constantly lying can be worrisome for both parents and other adults in the child’s life, such as their teacher, grandparents, etc. But how do you stop your child from lying continuously? Is there a serious underlying reason, or is it just a phase your child is going through?
If your child lies often, you may wonder why! To help your child stop lying, you need to address the cause of the lie and then find the appropriate “fix” for the lie.
Lies don’t just happen sporadically – there’s usually an underlying reason. For example, if lying is the result of fear, you need to show your child they have no reason to worry and that you’ll be understanding.
With this short guide, we hope to help you learn to identify the reasons behind your child’s lies and how to help them.
1. Find the Reason Behind Their Lying
Before you can help your child stop lying, you need to identify the cause of the lies. You can’t treat the symptom alone – you need to actually figure out why the child is lying in the first place. If you can figure it out, it will help you help your child without simply sweeping the issue under the carpet.
Children could lie for many different reasons, from wanting attention to being afraid of the consequences of the truth.
2. Teach Them Why Honesty is so Important
To help your child stop lying, you need to teach them the value of honesty and what happens when someone constantly lies. By being honest, one tends to make more friends and be viewed as trustworthy, whereas constant lying can alienate one from their friends.
Of course, you don’t need to implement tough love but rather openly discuss the possible outcomes of lying. Make your child aware of how lying can impact other people.
3. Let Them Know They Have No Reason to be Scared
If the reason behind your child’s lies is that they are scared of how you’ll react, you need to show them they have no reason to be afraid. Show them you’ll respond appropriately to the truth (thank them for being honest, etc.) rather than getting angry or upset.
4. Teach Them The Difference Between Reality And Fiction
In some cases of lying, it is because the child cannot understand the difference between what they see happen and what they imagined; it could be a case of an overactive imagination.
Try sitting your child down and talking about all the differences between what actually happens and the stories they make in their head. Perhaps get your child to write the fictional stories down as a form of creativity instead of talking about it like it’s real life.
5. Explain the Difference Between a Good Lie and a Bad Lie
Parents often ask their children to lie to their mom or dad to surprise them with something such as flowers or a party. But some children may view this as an invitation to lie about other things. Tell your child the difference between “good” lies and “bad” lies.
6. Lead by Example
From an early age, children learn new things by copying their parents. This includes learning to brush their teeth and eat their food. But the same can be said for lying. If you constantly lie around your child, they will learn to lie too, or will feel as if it is okay to lie when the situation plays in their favor.
7. Reward Them for Being Honest
Many parents make the error of punishing their children for being honest with them, and that can be counterproductive. For example, if a child tells you they spilled water on the carpet, don’t punish them for the truth, but rather thank them and help them clean the mess.
8. Help Them With Their Problem
If your child is lying due to an issue at school or with another child in the neighborhood, address the issue with the school or the parents of the problem child. Your child may be lying to you because they are embarrassed by the situation.
9. Tell Them That Keep Secrets Could Become Problematic
Occasionally, children don’t understand the difference between good and bad secrets, which can lead to lies and dishonesty. Some parents ask their children not to tell mommy or daddy something, and this could lead to them not sharing what they should. Teach them the difference between good and bad lies.
10. Give Them Books About The Value of Honesty
Sitting and talking about the value of honesty might not get the message across to some children. Or perhaps you don’t know how to properly explain the importance of honesty. Fortunately, there are many books available on the topic that you can purchase to help your child.
11. Build Your Child’s Trust in You
Sometimes, a child lies because they feel they can’t trust their parent with the truth. This means that they may be afraid you’ll overreact to the situation. If this is the cause behind the lies, help establish your child’s trust by showing them you’ll respond appropriately.
12. Seek Professional Help for Your Child
While it’s not a very common diagnosis, your child may be a compulsive liar. Some people cannot control their lying and may not even realize they’re lying. If your child is lying for no reason, it may be time to seek help from an expert.
Meeting with a therapist for casual sessions would be a great way to figure out if your child is going through a phase or if there is a deeper issue at play.
13. Remove the Influence
Sometimes children lie because they’re imitating someone. That someone could be a bad influence or someone who makes it look like lying is fun or beneficial. This could be anyone in your child’s life, but most often, children copy their friends. If talking to the other child’s parents doesn’t work, you may need to put an end to the friendship.
14. Give Them a Diary
If your child feels they cannot tell you the truth for whatever reason, try to give them a diary or journal to write in. But don’t read what they write – provide them with the privacy to get their thoughts and feelings down on paper. Rather, let them process the situation they are lying about and allow them to come to you when they are ready.
Sometimes, the act of writing the lie down will help your child come around to telling the truth or making things right.
15. Understand That the Lying Could Be a Phase
All children go through phases at some point during their childhoods. Phases are entirely normal, and if it’s just a phase, there is nothing to worry about.
For some children, it’s the terrible threes. For others, they could go through a “mine” phase. But for some children, that phase is lying about everything, and it’s something they need to outgrow.
To help your child, keep being honest and transparent while reiterating how important it is to be honest and upfront. Open and meaningful conversations with your child will prove valuable in this type of situation.
All Things Considered
Children lie for a multitude of different reasons, and each reason needs to be addressed differently. Don’t try to rush into “fixing” your child. These things take time, and your child is worth taking the time with.
Some children will understand that their actions are bad by just being spoken to, while others may need professional help.
The number one thing every parent should do when it comes to lying is to remain patient and work with their child and not against them. Be patient and kind – the lying could just be a phase.