How can I stop my child lying?

December 4, 2020 8:30:47 AM

How can I stop my child lying?

Why does my daughter lie all the time and how can I get her to stop?

Child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin, says: “Children learn to lie around the age of three, when they develop a ‘theory of mind’ (an understanding that others can think differently to them). So, in many ways, lying is a sign that your child is developing just as they should be. But, lying can cause a lot of worry and disappointment for parents.

“Some children lie more than others, and this can be related to their personality and imagination, as well as their personal experiences. There are two types of lying. In pro-social lying, children are not telling the truth, so they can protect the feelings of others. This may include saying they love a present even if they don’t, or that they are too busy to attend a party, even when they’re not. These lies are often reinforced by parents and other grown-ups, who frequently tell children to be ‘polite’ and ‘nice’.

“The second type of lying, anti-social lying, can cause more difficulties. These lies are usually told in order to save the child’s own feelings. By telling anti-social lies, children are trying to avoid being shouted at or punished, or to save disappointing their parents. In families where there are more rules, there is more chance that a child will break a rule, and therefore more chance they will lie to get out of trouble.”

No one is going to stop lying altogether, but here are some top tips from Dr Rudkin for making it easier for your child to tell the truth rather than lie…

Praise kids when they tell the truth

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“Adults have a mere 50% success rate in detecting lies in children, so give up on the guessing and instead focus on the times when your daughter tells you the truth. Heap loads of praise on her and let her know how proud you are of her for following the family rules and telling you the truth.”

Work out punishments together

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“Families are becoming more democratic, with children having an increasing contribution to family decisions. For example, a recent study conducted by global experts in family holiday rentals, Vrbo, found that over half of parents said they shared the decision-making process.

“Your daughter tries to gain more control over her life by lying. Help her use this desire to contribute more positively to family life by organising a democratic family meeting. Use this meeting to discuss how you all value honesty and good behaviour, and agree together on the consequences of lying, with these consequences applying to everyone in the family.”

Spend time together and chat lots

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“Make sure you spend lots of quality time with your daughter, so she has plenty of opportunity to talk about her feelings with you, and also so you can rebuild your trust in her.”

Keep a routine

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“Children are more likely to lie when they feel uncertain about themselves and the world around them. Consistent routines, carried out with care, can help children to feel less wobbly and more relaxed and rested.”

Lead by example

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“Children learn by observing and imitating, so as a parent, you need to behave the way you would like your child to behave. If you don’t want her to lie, then you need to be very honest yourself, so you can role model the kinds of moral action you would like to see in her.”