You would be hard-pressed to find a parent who hasn’t faced the dilemma of what to do when kids lie. Lying is a natural part of development, and there are many reasons why kids stretch the truth. But how do you react? What is an appropriate response when you catch your child in a lie? Below are some helpful tips to send you in the right direction.
Tips for What to Do When Your Child Lies
The best thing you can do when you catch your child in a lie is to take a deep breath and resist the urge to overreact. Yelling and lecturing will only further encourage this kind of evasive behavior in the future, as they often want to avoid your wrath at all costs. By staying calm you build the bridge to reestablish the trust between you and make it easier for them to fess up.
Listen with an Open Mind
In our previous post on the topic, we list several reasons why kids lie. Though there is no good excuse for not telling the truth, it’s important to try to understand the motivation behind the lie. Not only will this determine your next course of action, but by putting yourself in their shoes you are better able to empathize with their reasoning and offer a more appropriate solution.
Offer Alternative Solutions
Depending on the reason for the lie, it might be appropriate to role play an alternate solution for your child to dissuade them from lying in the future. For example, if your child snuck a chocolate before dinner after you specifically asked them not to, and then lied about it when confronted, you might want to reenact the same scenario with an alternate ending. You be them and they can be you! You can role play asking if you can have the chocolate after dinner instead. Perhaps a cup of veggies to tide you over in the meantime. Then reverse roles and they can rewrite history themselves. It’s a fun way to offer practical strategies they can employ again.
Decide on a Consequence Together if Appropriate
Again, depending on the lie, it might be appropriate to apply a consequence. The number one rule of establishing appropriate consequences is to ensure that the consequence is connected to the offense. Taking away their allowance because they missed curfew is an example of an unrelated consequence. Moving curfew several hours earlier until trust is reestablished would be a more logical response. You can see several other suggestions for establishing positive consequences in our post here.
Sometimes the fact that they were caught is consequence enough because they know they have disappointed you. In this case, there is nothing wrong with extending grace and moving past it together. In cases where a consequence was established, it is even more imperative to move past the incident and resist the urge to keep harping on their mistake. As soon as possible, ensure your kids know that they have an opportunity to redeem themselves. As kids get older this can take time depending on the offense, but try to give them the benefit of the doubt in the meantime. If you expect them to disappoint you again, they probably will because they know they have already lost your trust. Move forward with a fresh start and they’ll be more likely to make more positive choices in the future.
How do you respond when your child lies? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
XO Good Enuf Mommy
What to do when you catch your child in a lie…[/caption]