What to do when the child lies:
1. REINFORCE THE TRUTH: When children tell the truth we must let them know how very pleased we are of them for being honest, also at the same praise them for understanding the difference between truth and fiction. This also helps children know the importance of telling the truth without stretching or remodeling it.
2. LEARNING TO PICK THE STORIES: Stories come in all sizes, long, short, tall and usually involves the child trying to get out of trouble. The short one may involve something like telling you he has already been to the toilet before bed. Then comes the long one, saying things like “it must have been the dog, I didn’t eat the last cupcake.” Then there’s the whopper, usually of the boasting variety, yeah well I have five motorbikes and I ride them all every day.
3. BE COMPASSIONATE: We need to be able to tell the different types of stories children tell and respond accordingly. For Example: When the child tells you he didn’t spill over the blocks on the rug, and we know differently, we need to explain we are more disappointed in the fact that he lied, to save him getting into trouble. This is where we help him understand that it is better to tell the truth from the start because that way we have a better chance of fixing the problem together. Children are more at ease telling the truth, knowing we are considerate to their feelings.
4. Be positive and emphasize the importance of honesty. You can tell children that you appreciate being told the truth and don’t like it when they are lying to you; for example, try saying ‘When you don’t tell me the truth, I feel sad and disappointed’. You could also try books or stories that highlight the importance of honesty. Generally, it’s better to teach children the value of telling the truth than to punish them for minor misdeeds. Praise children for honesty, even if it sometimes takes you a while to get it. Children like to make things up. They exaggerate stories to give them a bit more ‘flavor.’ In fact, pretending and imagining are important to the child’s development. It’s good to encourage this kind of play. ‘Tall tales’ don’t need to be treated as lies, especially for children under four.
If we want children to be honest, we must be honest. Honesty is best taught by modeling. Always tell the truth to children. Be aware of the different ways in which adults can lie to each other and avoid those scenarios in front of children.
Next week: Trustworthiness