All children lie. They don’t always, of course, but on more than one occasion in their early childhood they will say something that is not true or they will try to blame others.
It is not uncommon for six or seven year olds to say phrases like “I haven’t been”, “my little brother will have painted the wall” or “yes, I ate my sandwich on time. lunch. Patio ”when they know they are lying.
Honesty is a value that all parents try to instill in their children, which is why many wonder how to teach a child not to lie. Below we will give the answer.
What can be done to teach a child not to lie?
Lying is a common behavior in childhood. All children lie, either very innocently, without realizing it, or simply because they want to hide something wrong that they have done. There are even children who have fun lying, trying to confuse other children and even adults. simply for the satisfaction of deceiving others. Obviously, the latter is usually not very common, but lying can of course seem a bit playful.
Whatever the reason a child lies, if it becomes a very common behavior, it can lead to social problems. A child who lies at all times can become the most unreliable child in their class, causing them to have no friends because their classmates are afraid that they will cheat and harm them. As innocent as it may be a lie when abused, it can become a tool that undermines the trust around us in ourselves.
While the consequences aren’t that bad, it’s clear that lying is not a good thing. In fact, in most societies this act is considered immoral. That is why all parents want to instill in their children the values of honesty and sincerity.
however, it is not possible to teach these values without exercising modeling. Young children are easily swayed, both for good and for bad, and their parents, older siblings, and other school children are role models. If a lot of lies are told at home and at school, children will eventually learn to lie, which is fine, or at least it is legitimate to do so one day.
Why do children lie?
There are many reasons a child lies. It is true that some lie just for the sake of having fun, cheating their parents and peers into behaving in the desired way, or confusing them. However, this is usually not the norm and there are usually other reasons.
As we mentioned, adults and other peers with whom children come into contact have a significant influence on their behavior. If the child sees that adults constantly lie, it will not be seen as an ethically questionable lie, but as more legitimate behavior. That’s why he won’t have so many personal restrictions when it comes to hiding or distorting the truth.
Another reason a child can lie, especially to other little ones, is that they need to feel accepted.. This may be due to a great lack of self-esteem, forcing the child, who does not trust himself, to exaggerate his skills or to say things about him that are not true. For example, a child may feel inferior to the rest of his peers because he does not have a dog, and because he wants to be accepted, he is lying by saying that he has one.
Children also lie to adults, but the reason is quite different. In this case, they tend to lie to hide something wrong that they have done or that they believe is wrong. Here, too, there is a lack of self-esteem, but also a lack of confidence in adults, fear of harsh punishment and parents. The child may feel so insecure that he does not know if what he is doing is good enough and, as they are afraid that even after having done well, his parents will see it as a bad thing, he prefers to be silent. or lie.
How to curb the lies?
One thing to keep in mind is that age is an important factor when considering lying in children. Until the age of six, children have enough trouble to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. For this reason, it is advisable to start working out from this age, as one cannot learn not to lie without being aware that you are doing so.
The first step in teaching a child not to lie is to find out why he did it. As we saw in the previous section, there are several reasons a child will not tell us the truth. We cannot instill honesty and sincerity without understanding why they did it, because just telling them “it is wrong to lie” is a lesson empty of content. We need to focus on why he’s lying, not the lie itself, and we don’t take it as a personal thing either.
If the reason he’s lying to us is because he’s afraid of our reaction, it is possible that the problem lies in the way we educate. Parents that are too hard and tough, far from fostering a strong and resilient character in their offspring, what they do is make them very insecure. He is afraid to speak the truth for fear of being punished and therefore prefers to lie. He lies, but feels very bad and is afraid of feeling worse.
The problem here is quite deep, because lying is a symptom that the educational style we use is not the most appropriate. The idea is not that we tolerate lying or misconduct, but of course the most appropriate thing is to reduce gravity. If he does something wrong he should be sanctioned, but we are not abusing it and realizing that there are a lot of good things the child does.
If this is due to a lack of self-esteem, either because you feel intimidated or inferior by the way your peers are or by a problem at home, you need to see a psychologist. It’s not that parents can’t help their child have better self-esteem, in fact, they can do so by highlighting their strengths and helping them overcome their weaknesses. However, with the advice of the child psychologist, we will be able to improve the child’s self-esteem with techniques with scientific evidence.
When we find out that the child has lied, it is very important not to accuse him of lying, not even in an affectionate or joking tone. He should also not be ridiculed or reacted sharply and with anger. What you need to ask him, in a respectful and calm tone, is why he lied knowing it wasn’t fair. Humiliation, ridicule, and derogatory words will only make the problem worse, especially if your reason for lying is related to low self-esteem.
Of course, in addition to understanding what made the child lie and trying to figure it out, you have to be an example for him. As we have mentioned, parents and older siblings are an important role model for the younger ones, those who imitate everything the older ones do. If older children behave badly, younger children will also behave badly. To prevent the child from seeing lies as legitimate behavior, it is best not to do so.
it is fundamental make them understand what are the social consequences of lying, Beyond the punishments that may exist. They need to understand that not being honest with others will make them suspicious of them. This will make it difficult for them to have friends, and with it, they will not have an adequate social network to support them. It can also encourage revenge behaviors, causing others to see us as legitimate to lie to whoever lied to them first, by giving them their own medicine.
- Oppliger, M., Talwar, V. and Crossman, A. (2011). Preachers of the prosocial lie of children: motivation, variables of socialization and moral understanding. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 110 (3), 373-392. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2011.05.003
- Talwar, V., Arruda, C. and Yachison, S. (2015). The effects of punishment and calls for honesty on behaviors that tell children the truth. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130, 209-217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.09.011
- Talwar, V. and Lee, K. (2008). Social and cognitive correlations of lying behavior in children. Child Development, 79 (4), 866-881. doi: 10.1111 / j.1467-8624.2008.01164.x
- Xu, F., Bao, X., Fu, G., Talwar, V. and Lee, K. (2010). Lies and Truth in Children: From Concept to Action. Child Development, 81 (2), 581-596. doi: 10.1111 / j.1467-8624.2009.01417.x