The other day, a reader wrote this: “My child is lying to get out of trouble. My daughter is in the habit of lying in order to get out of trouble. How to I encourage her to tell the truth, even when it may mean consequences?
So, we asked other parents to chime in and give us their best advice. It was great, of course. Here is what you said you do to encourage your kids to stop lying, even if it means that they might get into trouble.
- A fun way to work on this is to play a game together. Talk about the rules before you play. Ask your kids what they would think if someone cheated, just to win.
- We always say that we would rather our kids be honest up front. We talk to them about it (not while it is happening, but all of the time). We want them to know that lying now is not a good idea, and the truth will always come out… even if it is much later.
- I check my emotions. It is easy to overreact in the moment which then can cause kids to lie because they fear your overreaction. Take a minute and count to 20 before reacting to any situation.
- Share about your mistakes openly with your kids. Kids can struggle with honesty because they fear disappointing their parents. Make it a habit to talk about what you failed at so they know you are not perfect.
- Hold a family meeting and go over consequences. Sometimes just having open plans about things can help clear the air. What do they do if they have done something wrong. What should they do if they have lied?
- Remind your child that as they show they are honest, you will be more apt to give more freedom. My mom always said she would trust us, but when the trust gets broken, it has to be rebuilt.
- Be an example of what you want to see. Are you telling little white lies and your child is watching? Try to stop yourself from doing this and just be honest with your kids (as much as you can with little children, of course.)
- The next time they lie, talk calmly about what happened. Why did they lie? What happened as a result? Building a strong communication line with your kids is key to building honesty.
- When you are working on this issue, make sure and forgive and forget. Give your child the hope that you believe they can be honest- do not label them a liar. Instead, label the action and encourage them to turn from it. Children live up to what we expect of them. Our words become their inner voices.
- Don’t give up on your child! It can take a lot of repetition, but it is always worth it. Keep on teaching, training, and modeling what you want your child to do.