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Don't Play The Lying Game

Question

My 7-year-old daughter has begun to tell lies. She was an honest child but lately, she has been lying so much to get herself out of trouble. She has started playing with a neighbor who lies and I'm wondering if I should prohibit her from playing with him? Please help, I'm worried she is changing!

Answer

Thank you for reaching out to ParentGuru,

All children lie, some a little and some a lot. Children lie simply because they are human, not because of some deep seated psychological issue. Often it is the parents' reaction that can perseverate the lying or nip it in the bud. What I mean is that when a child tells a lie and the parent gets all bent out of shape over it and makes a big deal of it, the child is more likely to do it again. Why? Because in reacting this way you have created a drama in which the child is the central figure, the star if you will, and what child doesn't enjoy the limelight?

The easiest way to deal with this is don't get caught playing the lying game. Don't ask the child questions that you already know the answer to. For example, asking "Do you have gum in your mouth?" when you can clearly tell she's chewing gum. That just invites her to lie. Instead simply say, "please spit out your gum". The thing to do when she tells you a lie (and you know she's lying) is simply look at her and say "Why are you doing that?" She most likely will respond with "Doing what?" Then you just say "I'm not going to play the lying game with you, I love you too much." If she responds by further lying, Such as "I'm not lying" or "What game?" just calmly tell her the conversation is over and turn and walk away. Don't get mad, overreact, or get bent out of shape. Once she loses her audience the wind goes out of the actress' sails, thus starving her lies of drama. If she persists and makes a fuss, simply keep telling her "this conversation is officially over".

Punish her for her misbehaviors, but not necessarily for lying. John feels that lying doesn't really respond to punishment and may only make the lying worse. As for prohibiting her from playing with him, I would not. You cannot protect your daughter from everyone's character flaws. All you can do is simply teach her what is and isn't accaeptable in your home and let her know that even though her friend lies, you will not tolerate it in your home. Then be consistent and stick to your convictions.

Let us know how it goes and reach out again if you need further assistance.

Carmen Korsten
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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