7 Steps for Dealing with Lying Children
Your child is lying to you. You were lying to your parents. Your parents were lying to your grandparents. And so on.
Everybody’s lying and no, that’s not the problem. That’s just a result of miscommunication and lack of trust.
How do you know you have lying children?
First of all, your gut feeling is the most important thing to take into consideration.
You know your child better than anyone else, because you spend most time with him. You spend almost all your time with him. So you know your child – his behavior, his language, his tone of voice, his gestures, and so on.
And when something is not right, is not as you remember, the gut feeling intervenes and you start to notice some differences. At first, his voice inflections will change. Then, he will start acting a little bit crazy and, maybe, yell at you or, even worse, throw something at you.
These are all bad manners and they are present because your child is not used to talk about private stuff with you.
Photo © London Scout
Step one or prevention: befriend your child
If you are only trying to be a good parent, you will never be able to be your child’s friend.
He is not always looking for advice or for life lessons. He is also looking for sharing his problems and he’s trying to find someone who can trust. Because sharing is bounded to trust.
In order to be close to your child, you need to listen to what is going on “underneath” the lie.
You will notice that your child is really smart and he leaves clues for you. He wants you to be his friend, but you have work for that. So you need to search and find the clues and give them the proper meaning.
Step two: consider your child’s developmental age
Adults are like children – both have different development stages in their lives.
Understanding your child also means understanding the stage that his life is at and figure out the way he’s perceiving things around himself.
If your child is 5 years old, he’s not lying when he is telling you about the fairy that’s living next door. He is simply exploring his imagination and tries to discover as much as he can about life, in general.
Step three: teach your child that freedom means responsibility
When your child is lying to you, he needs to understand that he is responsible for whatever he’s saying.
Every word that’s coming out of his mouth is what he stands for. Every sentence that he’s breathing is going to define his values and personality over the next years.
The freedom of speaking involves the responsibility of doing every action connected to his words. Try to teach him that every time he states something, he needs to act in that direction.
Step four: teach your child what truth really is
If you are saying things like “truth is the opposite of lie” then you are not doing anything valuable for your child’s education.
The truth is a value and achieving this value is not an easy thing, especially for a child that’s used to have everything he wants.
The truth is that value is deserved only by the highly respected people and the leaders that are giving their best to improve the life of others. The truth is primarily connected to making others’ life better.
Explaining to your child how telling the truth will impact others life, and sharing with him some stories about leaders and leadership will make him, eventually, see the truth as a value.
Step five: teach your child about vulnerability
Lying is often connected to hiding details and facts.
If your child is hiding something from you, he could lie to you. And he’s doing that because he doesn’t want to be vulnerable, especially if he’s a boy, not a girl.
The society is teaching us, no matter if we are children or adults, that we have to hide our feelings and stay strong. In the eye of the society, we have to be those powerful heroes that never fall.
So, the society is lying to your child and then your child is lying to himself and to you.
For teaching your child about vulnerability, you need to show vulnerability. Say that you are sorry every time you make a mistake. Excuse yourself when you break something and take responsibility for everything you’re doing.
Photo © Filios Sazeides
Step six: listen to your child
No matter how big or small the things he wants to share are, you have to take your time and listen.
While you’re listening, pay attention to his emotional involvement in his stories, because that will help you understand his situation and eventually help your child.
Listening is what gives communication meaning. If you want your child to stop lying to you, you need to communicate with him. But in order to communicate, you need to listen.
Step seven: build the tribe
Not any tribe, but the tribe!
The tribe where your child feels comfortable and safe. The place where it doesn’t matter how others are and behave, but matters how he is and how he behaves. The community where actions matter and people are trustworthy.
Help him build the tribe where everyone involved (his friends and family) is positive and talk about ideas and concepts, not about people and negatively related stuff.
Help him become a person that could influence and change the world.
Don’t force him to share something or to tell the truth
This is the most important thing that you SHOULD NOT do. It will push your child away and he will lie even more, and you will never be able to be his friend.
In order to make him share some of his negative experiences and problems, you should share yourself some first. But take into consideration that you need to have a positive ending to your stories, no matter how bad they are, so focus on your storytelling skills.
Tell him about your childhood, your bullies, your first love, your school and share every good or bad moment that you had your child’s age.
Sharing will make him realize that he can trust you and he will open his soul.