Do You Want to Know How to Get Your Kids to Stop Lying?
Don’t Do These 7 Things and stop lying sooner!
He stares directly into your eyes and says, “I didn’t do it.” Chocolate smeared all over his face.
She said she just brushed her teeth, but you glare at her as you hold up her dry toothbrush.
How can your kids lie directly to your face? Are you raising little sociopaths? Are they doomed to be pathological liars? Most likely not.
Kids all have varying degrees of honesty. Some are super honest and others are…well, not so honest.
I have three kids with three very different takes on what it means to be “honest.” But lucky for my kids, honesty is a value that I am going to drill into their heads until it sticks.
I can’t stomach liars and I’m definitely not going to raise three of them.
But how do we not “raise” liars? How do we stop lying when it has already started? Well, it requires some concerted effort. It isn’t going to just naturally happen with some kids.
Ironically it isn’t what we should do, but rather what we SHOULDN’T do that matters.
What is this crazy lady talking about? Let me explain…
#1) When you take their lies personally you…
Miss the teaching moment. You are too busy dealing with your ego and the baggage your child’s lying triggered (e.g. He’s going to grow up to be just like that old good for nothing boyfriend I had in college who always lied to me).
Let go. It isn’t about you. Don’t take it personally. Kids lie. You teach. Stop reading into things.
Kids learn best in the moment. Especially in bad moments. As a parent, you have two options when faced with poor behavior. #1) Lose your cool and make it personal or #2) Turn it into a teachable moment.
We can’t be Mother Teresa all the time (heck she probably couldn’t either if she had her own kids), but when you have a moment of clarity in your parenting – aim for option #2.
Are you confused on how one exactly “teaches” in the moment when a kid is lying? Watch this episode of Ask the Child Therapist from my YouTube channel and it will give you some ideas:
#2) When you punish your child too severely you inadvertently make them…
A good liar. Sorry, but it is true. I have seen this time and time again in my practice. If you want to raise a good liar set way too many limits and restrictions on your kids and then punish the heck out of them. Your child will learn how to be the most manipulative, sneaky kid on this planet – and we don’t need any more of those, right?
The kids who scare me the most in therapy are the kids with the strictest parents. They sneak. They lie. They cover up lies with more lies.
Be reasonable with your discipline and your rules.
#3) When you lie in front of your kids you let them know…
That lying is okay. You can’t be one of those parents with the motto “Do as I say, not as I do.” It just doesn’t work that way.
We all do this from time to time and we aren’t even aware of it.
I got a quick text from a mom who hadn’t shown up for her daughter’s therapy appointment. It read, “Sorry we are running late. There was an accident on the highway.”
When her daughter was alone in our session she once again apologized for being late. I told her, “that’s okay – we can’t control car accidents.” She sheepishly told me, “There really wasn’t an accident. My mom just had me text you that. She really just forgot we had this appointment.”
How often do we lie in front of our kids?
But it is a little white lie. But I didn’t feel like going out. But I didn’t want him to know I bought that for the kids…
But, but, but…kids don’t know about “white lies.” A lie is a lie is a lie to them.
Teach honesty. Model honesty.
#4) Your child is 13, but 12 and under are free. You tell her to lie about her age. You also tell her…
That lying is okay. Yes, I know you wanted to save a buck. But at what cost? When being honest is not black and white – your child’s honesty won’t be either.
We all do this sometimes. My kids will call me on it.
My 13-year-old daughter has a teacher who requires that they study with the parent for 20 minutes each week. I philosophically completely disagree with this as I am trying to raise independent kids. My daughter is 13 and a straight A student. I want to reinforce independent studying and to me, studying with her is only going to set her back.
Having said that, I sign her agenda each week confirming I studied with her. This morning my daughter handed me her agenda to sign. I scribbled my name as we hurriedly got into the car to go to school. I barked that she needed to have me sign it the night before (as we rush in the mornings). She retorted with, “and you need to study with me. After all – that is what you are saying you do when you sign it.”
She’s right. What kind of message am I sending? So, instead of doing what my daughter wants (study with her), I am going to have to email her teacher and let her know that I am signing that she studied, but not with me.
Although I hate the idea of doing that, as I am an introverted people pleaser who works hard to avoid conflict and confrontation with anyone and anything (I am a work in progress). But, I must be consistent with my message to my kids and apparently… I messed up.
#5) Your kid tells you they brushed their teeth. You know they didn’t. You ask them, “Did you brush your teeth?” You are giving them an opportunity to…
You know they did it. Unless there is some magical mute button on the bathroom faucet, you know the sink was never touched – and neither was their toothbrush.
Don’t give your kids an opportunity to lie. Why encourage it? Is it because you want to see them be truthful or to see if they have the audacity to lie to your face? Uh-oh, better read #1 again.
Don’t ask if you already know. Skip that part of the sentence altogether and just deal with the behavior at hand.
#6) You ask who touched your make-up. Your youngest coughs up a confession and you cough up a severe punishment. You just taught her…
That honesty doesn’t pay. What’s going to happen next time you lead the Spanish Inquisition at your house? Do you think you are going to have kids dying to let you know they are the guilty party? Um, probably not.
In my house, I like to tell my kids what would’ve happened if they hadn’t been truthful. It usually goes something like this:
“Thank you for being honest. That means more to me than the bad choice you made. If you hadn’t been honest you would have lost TV for two days, but because you told the truth we’ll just make it an hour.”
Sometimes I will throw a complete “get out of jail free” card out there and they’ll be no punishment. In fact, I do this more often than not. And do you know what happens? I have more honest kids. True story.
#6) When you call lies “stories” or “tall-tales” you…
Minimize lying behavior. Often parents will come into my practice and will tell me things like, “He likes to tell stories” and “he tells some pretty big tall-tales.”
Um, no. He lies.
Don’t sugarcoat lying. When you do that you water down the seriousness of lying and provide built-in excuses for your child.
I have had children spend entire sessions telling what their parents would call, “stories.” These stories get pretty elaborate. Stories like they have more siblings than they actually do or that their parents are divorced – when they actually aren’t. Those are pretty big lies.
Watch your language when it comes to lying. If you want to stop lying you should call it what it is – lying.
We talk about the truth-o-meter every day at my house. Everyone know where they stand on the truth-o-meter and everyone is striving to get higher.
How do you handle lying at your house? Do you have any tips or questions on how to stop lying behavior? Leave a comment and let me know.
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