Most kids tell a lie from time to time. Even if this fact is hurtful and a hard thing for parents and others to accept, it is part of life and has to be dealt with in the right way in order to alleviate it. The reasons why children lie are varied and can affect not only them but their family and friends. Dealing with dishonesty and how it figures in today’s world can be a troublesome issue, but there are solutions for overcoming lying and the problems associated with it.  

Have an Honest Discussion

Parents are less and less able to control what their children see and hear and who they are exposed to and influenced by on a daily basis. Other kids, the media, teachers and prominent outsiders can make it difficult for parents to isolate and protect their children from misguided thinking and ideologies.

With children being bombarded with information from all angles along with the questionable influences of peers, there is a strong likelihood that parents will have difficulties dealing with and protecting their children from outside influences. Kids in their immaturity will take it upon themselves to engage in unacceptable and impulsive actions and other behaviors that generate dishonesty and lying and, as a result, parents find themselves caught in the middle looking for answers.  

Honesty is essential when it comes to what is happening with a child outside of the home, which is critical to the well-being of the child. Parents need to have upfront and honest discussions with their children in order to decide what is best for them and to help them make responsible decisions. Dealing with lies is part of that dialogue.  

What are kids thinking when they lie?

One problem is that kids don’t see lying as hurtful even though they know it is wrong, so they will try to justify doing it through excuses, such as, “I should not have given my organic fruit bar in trade for a candy bar, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s silly to make a big deal out of it.” With this kind of reasoning there are clashes with what a parent knows is wrong and what a child views as no one being affected, so the behavior becomes acceptable to the child, even though lies are still there.  

When children lie, parents get suspicious, particularly when the lying occurs on a regular basis. Parents feel as though their children are challenging them and weakening their parental authority. In order to get lying under control, parents need to hold their children responsible for it. Parents must not place blame on their children and continually harass them with, “you are lying to me,” which only escalates to the point where the parent believes the child is bad and will lie even more. The accusatory approach usually doesn’t work, and the child will continue to hide the truth and condemn himself at the same time. He knows he is lying, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to disappoint his parents.

It is important to get to the truth

In dealing with lies, and how to manage them, parents need to hold back with giving the lies too much influence or power. If a child thinks he can gain control over a parent, he will use lies to do so. It is important to get to the truth, but if it is done in a harsh manner, children will continue to use lies to overpower and hold parents hostage to them. 

A business-like, technical approach without moral lecturing or arguing is the best way to deal with lying. If a child tells lies, directly or indirectly, there are repercussions and the child needs to know that. Talk over the situation in a precise way and ask the child what he was trying to achieve by doing that and that lying is not a way to solve problems. Simply state, “Lying is wrong and hurtful and is not acceptable in our home. A family law and rule has been broken and there are consequences for that.” For example, the first time a child lies, he should be told you can’t stay up past a certain time. The next time it happens the consequences are stiffer, such as no cell phone use, computer, or television time. The repercussions have to be something that affects the child in his everyday life. The idea is to make telling the truth more advantageous than telling a lie. 

Dealing with kids telling lies doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, solving it can be accomplished in a simple, matter of fact fashion if parents inform their children from the onset that lying is wrong and there will be consequences for doing it. If kids know that they are going to be held accountable for telling lies and that there will be results that are not particularly to their liking, they are going to think long and hard before repeating the behavior. Lies have a funny way of catching up with anyone and kids need to know that.