Most parents don’t want their children to lie, but sometimes they unknowingly encourage just that by their own behavior. In order to avoid this, we need to make certain that we don’t set up situations which promote lying.
Provoked lies are a type of defensive lie. No one wants to feel interrogated or trapped by someone else. Yet, how many parents ask questions which set their children up to lie? If you know the answer to a question, there isn’t any need to ask it. Act on that information without trying to force your child to say it, which may very well result in a lie. Fear of punishment alone can result in defensive lies. Rather than working to solve the problem, you will be creating a future problem, as your children work better to conceal their actions. Children also lie because they haven’t been allowed to fully express their feelings. If someone negates your feelings, it defeats the purpose of telling the truth. If we want true honesty from our children, we have to be prepared for all truths – the positive and negative ones.
Often times, children aren’t intentionally lying. They really do wish that what they are saying is true. A mature reaction from us during these times is to reflect our understanding of the meaning behind their words rather than denying the content or condemning the child. The information we learn during these interactions can be used to help our children distinguish between reality and wishful thinking.
When dealing with lies, it’s important to state what we observe without attacking the child. They need to know that there is no reason to lie and that they can come to us and tell us anything.