How to Help Your Kids Stop Lying
They lied to stay alive. They lied to be liked. They lied to avoid punishment. They lied to shirk responsibility. They lied to charm. They lied to get even.
If their lips were moving, they were lying. Even after they came home to our family.
It was distressing and frustrating. They would engage in “crazy lies”, the kind of lies that were so preposterous, not even they could believe them. But they would nod their heads and practically raise their right hand in a solemn oath that this was the Gospel truth.
“Dah, Papa, none of my other friends ever have homework, tests, essays, or special projects. Their teachers and parents let them do whatever they want, and go to bed anytime. It’s true!”
“Why didn’t I put the dishes in the dishwasher? Well, I thought about it, and then the more I thought about it, I knew it was a bad idea. I might get hurt or cut. So I decided that when you said to do it, you probably didn’t mean me, because I never learned the right way, and would forget how to do it anyway, and you wouldn’t want me doing it the wrong way, so now I know I wasn’t meant to do it, and I really don’t remember you giving me specific instructions when to do it, or if we would need dishes for dinner….”
Well, now I have a plan.Â It cuts their â€œcreativityâ€ short, and stops lying dead in its tracks.Â It still semi-irritates me that I have to solve their problems for them, however, if it starts some new neural pathways to honesty, I think we have cause to celebrate.
Here’s the key, drumroll, please: I give them a choice. It’s really that simple. Give them a choice, a way of escape.
You see, a chronic liar imagines himself to be quite the creative creature: an excuse for every season and situation. Instead, in reality, they come up with stupid alibis that impress no one.
“The towels on the bathroom floor were left there on purpose, or were you in a rush to start school?”
“Oh, yes, rushing to start school, Mama. Sorry about that. I’ll go and pick mine up,” comes the response.
This, instead of, “Towels on the floor? I haven’t been in the bathroom in the last ten days, if not ten months. I have a bath towel? No, I don’t remember anything about that. It must be someone else.”
The next time you face a sticky situation that’s bound to lead to lying, give the kids a choice, and feed them an acceptable answer. You’ll be amazed at the outcome.
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